PennCoat’s Monthly Safety Review: Ladders

Most of the antics in this video are inaccurate demonstrations of how responsible contractors and handymen use their ladders.  However, it does provide a valuable insight of how easy it is to neglect safety hazards and become a victim of improper ladder use.

When painting buildings, corrugated ceiling, structural steel, and anything else related to facility substrates, ladder use is very common.   And what comes hand in hand with improper ladder use is an element of danger for the user.  So PennCoat, Inc. wanted to address the many safety concerns that can occur when operating ladders.

Step Ladders:

step ladders often use a folding mechanism that allows the base to spread open for a secure footing.  Although secure, the user still needs to keep in mind his or her center of gravity.  Leaning too far in the wrong direction can cause the ladder to lose its balance and tip over with disastrous results.  In addition to maintain a center of gravity by not leaning or reaching, it is a common maxim to remain below the 2nd step from the top.  Once the user’s core begins to reach above the 2nd step, it becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain that center of gravity.  So even if that last trim is just out of reach, don’t be myopic.  Be safe, and grab a taller ladder to complete the project.

Extension Ladders:

Extension ladders are great tools for building and home exteriors.  But the do come with their hazards.  Extension ladders need to extend 3 feet above the roof line, AND they need to be tied off.  Tying off the ladder provides the user with extra security, by increasing the stability of the ladder.  And with the ladder extending 3 feet above the roof line, the user will be able to pivot when the reach the summit of the ladder, and rotate onto the roof, decreasing the risk.

Another important step that needs consideration is the 4:1 rule with extension ladders.  For every verticle foot the ladder extends, the base of the foot needs to stretch out 1 foot from the base of the building.   So if the extension ladder is expanded 20 feet, the foot of the ladder needs to be 5 feet out from the base of the wall.

Generally, after set up, all ladders need to be inspected for safety.  Check the rungs on each ladder to ensure that they are not slippery with oils or any other liquids.  And make sure the footing of any ladder in use is secure.   Always use a spotter with a ladder to help reinforce the safety.

If the are trying to be reached is just too dangerous or inaccessible, there are latter alternatives that can drastically reduce the danger associated with that specific task.  Scaffolding is a great alternative to reaching new heights.  Scaffolding offers increased safety by increasing the footprint on the ground, which allows the user more mobility and substrate access.  Although scaffolding is a safety improvement, its cost and assembly do create limitations.

Lifts are another great alternative to ladders, that can improve the safety.  Scissors, boom, telescopic, and articulating lifts are all capable to helping the user access new substrates that are limited to the ladders’ capabilities.  Not only they able to reach new substrates, they are able to do it safely.  LIfts surround the user with a waste high cage, which the user can connect to using a safety harness.  Lifts are routinely inspected, and offer safety certifications.  However, this doesn’t suggest that the user should neglect a visual inspection prior to using the lift.

Height access is a reoccurring issue that requires strategy and a game plan for each specific situation.   Whether using a ladder, lift, or scaffolding, it is important to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of yourself, and others that are around.

PennCoat, Inc. has been providing industrial painting, commercial painting, epoxy flooring, and polished concrete services for nearly 30 years.  Our experienced installers are trained and equipped with the proper knowledge and tools to ensure that every installation is installed efficiently and safely.  PennCoat, Inc. provides service to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.  And we cover York, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Chester, Montgomery, Baltimore, Harrisburg, Dauphin, Bucks, Berks, and other counties in the surrounding area.