Safety at the top when using ladders
Working at height is less dangerous when guidelines are followed
There were more than 600 cases of injury due to falling from heights last year.
Based on figures from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), out of the 677 injured, 13 died.
Ladder usage is common in the workplace, regardless if it is in a construction site, for stocking shelves in a supermarket or during home renovation work.
The importance of ladder safety can be easily overlooked.
An incident in 2013 involving a ladder resulted in a man falling to his death.
A group of workers was at the Jalan Membina estate for a closed-circuit television camera installation project when one of them fell off a 2m-high ladder.
The man was standing on a step ladder inspecting some conduit pipes, and he was most likely standing on the top few rungs of the ladder.
He was found lying face up near the ladder and was pronounced dead three days later.
The cause of death was due to a head injury.
Taking simple precautions when using ladders can save lives and prevent injuries.Mr Chan Yew Kong, director of occupational safety and health inspectorate at MOM
How informed are we about the safe ways to use ladders?
For example, it is not recommended to work on ladders for more than 15 minutes.
There is a Code of Practice for Working Safely at Heights that gives general safety guidelines on the usage of ladders.
People on ladders should maintain three points of contact.
This means that in addition to their feet, holding the ladder with both hands when ascending or descending is required.
Slip resistant footwear is recommended when using ladders.
The user should also not stand on the top few rungs of the ladder.
In addition, the user should not carry materials and tools by hand when ascending or descending the ladder.
Step ladders - those that can be moved - should only be used when they are in the fully opened position.Before using a ladder, it is best to ensure that it has no visible defects and is clean from oil, grease, wet paint and other slipping hazards.
Mr Chan Yew Kong, director of occupational safety and health inspectorate at MOM, said: "It is critical to choose the right equipment for work at height based on risk assessment.
"If it is right to use a ladder, use the right one and get trained to use it safely.
"It is also a good safe practice to work a few steps below the top rung of a step ladder, so that a firm handhold can be maintained. Taking simple precautions when using ladders can save lives and prevent injuries.
"Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers, and they have to provide ladders of the right height when working at height.
"Employers should consider investing in safer alternatives, such as mobile elevating work platforms to further mitigate work-at-height risks and - at the same time - increase productivity."
Ladder Safety 101
- Do not set up ladders in passageways, doorways, driveways or other places where a person, vehicle or crane-lifted load can hit it.
- Do not overreach — ensure that your body stays within the stiles, and keep both feet on the same rung throughout the task.
- Do not use ladders where a person or the ladder may make contact with power lines. Do not use ladders that contain metal near live electrical appliances.
- Do not use ladders near doorways or windows. If you need to use a ladder near one, make sure that the door (except when it is a fire exit) or window is locked.
- Do not use a ladder if it is bent or missing a step.
- Do not use a ladder if the spreaders do not have a locking device or mechanism.
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