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General Safety Handbook

Ladders and Scaffolding


Although there is always a risk in working on elevated areas, it is a fact that the vast majority of accidents involving ladders result from the failure to exercise care.  Proper training, as well as routine inspections and maintenance, can substantially reduce the number of ladder-related injuries.

Do not use any make-shift means of getting to an area that is out-of-reach. This includes such things as boxes, chairs, overturned buckets, file cabinets, etc. Always use a ladder or step stool.

On any job requiring a ladder, use only approved sturdy ladders that you can place on a firm base.  Inspect the ladder prior to EVERY use.  Maintain ladders free of oil, grease and other hazards. Do not use ladders with structural defects; properly tag with "Do Not Use" and withdraw from service.

Use a ladder only for the purpose for which it was designed (refer to manufacturer's labeling and recommendations).  Use only non-conductive side rails around live electrical equipment.  Wear protective clothing and rubber-soled shoes.

Carry ladders parallel to the ground.  Tie ladders down securely when transporting.

Barricade traffic areas in the vicinity of ladder use, and lock, barricade or guard doorways in which a ladder is placed.  Keep the area around the top and bottom of the ladder clear.  Whenever possible, angle out the base one-fourth of the ladder's working length.  The ladder should reach at least three feet above the landing.

Extension ladders shall be kept from slipping or tipping by tying off the ladder at the top and securing the ladder at the bottom.  Portable ladders in use shall be tied, blocked or otherwise secured to prevent their being displaced.

Face the ladder while climbing and use both hands.  Lift equipment and materials with a rope specifically for that purpose--don't carry the equipment up a ladder with one hand.   Carry smaller tools in pouches around the waist.

Never stand on the top two steps of any ladder or the top cap of a step ladder.  This could cause you to become off-balance resulting in a fall.  Do not stand on the back cross bracing.  Always maintain at least three points of contact with the ladder (2 feet and 1 hand, or 2 hands and 1 foot should be in contact with the ladder at all times).   Do not over-extend sideways; use the belt buckle rule:  Keep your belt buckle positioned between the side rails at all times--this will maintain your center of gravity in the proper position.  Do not move, shift, or extend the ladder while you are standing on it.  Never "walk" a ladder.

Do not load the ladder beyond its maximum intended load.  Never allow more than one worker on the ladder at a time.

Scaffolding should be used if solid footing or a safe ladder is not available.  Caster brakes should be set before an employee gets on a scaffold.  If no brakes are available, another employee should be in position to secure the scaffold.

Scaffolding shall be secured at intervals of 15 feet to a solid support.  Securing will be by wire, cable, chain or rope.

Ladders, boxes, etc. should not be set on scafolds to increase working heights.

Scaffolds should not be moved with employee(s) or materials on the scaffold.  Scaffolding shall not be moved until its height is reduced below 15 feet.  Sufficient help shall be used to move the scaffold.  A "watcher" shall be posted to watch for overhead obstructions as well as holes, etc., at ground level.

Guard rails and toe boards are required on any scaffold over five feet high.

Flooring shall be solid from side-to-side and secured in place with cleats.

It is your responsibility to keep all tools and materials away from the edges of the scaffold and platform openings.

Scaffolding over 50 feet high shall be inspected by the Environmental Health & Safety Department.

"I usually climb down slowly," he uttered brokenly.

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