Ladder Safety 101

In our most recent safety symposium, it was brought to our attention that many people wanted to learn more about ladder safety, storage, and simply general information. From this feedback, we have compiled a list of information in one easy place to display all you could ever want to know about ladders.

What are the best ladder storage solutions available?

To kick this list off, we want to talk about the best qualities to look for in your ladder storage solution. Ideally, you want to have a location that is safe, secure, and protected from outside factors. This will leave you with two options that can realistically be used, with pros and cons to both. These options would be a garage/warehouse or ladder racks on a truck.

  • While a garage/warehouse is the absolute best location, as your ladders are protected from the environment extremely well and are secure, there are some problems this location may bring. This will not work for everyone as the inconvenience of loading and unloading ladders daily from job sites could just be too much for some people, along with taking up valuable warehouse space when not in use. For those that don't think this option is right for them, we have an alternative.

  • Leaving ladders racked on a truck is a good compromise between convenience and security. While this solution doesn't protect your ladders from the sun, rain and snow, it does keep them safe and secure. While the lifespan of your ladders will be shortened from the prolonged outside exposure this solution has, the convenience it offers can be worth more to customers, making it just as viable a solution.

Regardless of what solution you choose, remember to always inspect your ladder before use and replace it when damage is found.

How long will a fiberglass ladder last having faced prolonged exposure to varying weather conditions?

You might be asking yourself this question after weighing the pros and cons of the aforementioned storage solutions, so lets clear this one up for you.

To understand fiberglass ladders' lifespans, we should first understand the main killer of these ladders, the sun. Prolonged sun exposure will damage the fibers the ladder is made of. At first, this constant blast of UV rays will expose the fibers, which is only aesthetic. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, over time, this will cause an event called fiber bloom. This is structural damage and requires the ladder to be replaced, which is why inspection before use is critical, regardless of ladder age. Below are two images showing fiber bloom so you know what to look out for.

Sun Damaged ladder  Fiber Bloom

When is it the right time to replace a ladder?

While ladders don't noticeably wear out like other tools will, they definitely do need to be inspected regularly and replaced when their lifespan ends. You should always check your ladders before use for cracks, bends or breaks in any part of the ladder. If you find any of these defects, do not use the ladder and tag it for removal and replacement, regardless of how "new" the ladder may look or be. Remember that there is no expiration date for ladders, so as long as you follow proper storage techniques and treat it with care, your ladder could last you an extremely long time.

Why are wooden ladders a poor choice of ladder?

This was one of our biggest and most important questions brought to our attention, so we felt it was necessary to explain the reasoning behind in greater detail. Wood ladders are susceptible to cracks, rot, splinters, broken rungs, loose joints and bolts, and hardware in poor condition. The reasoning behind this is wood expands and contracts in hot and cold weather, along with absorbing water, all causing structural instability overtime that are not present in fiberglass ladders. If you are interested in switching to Aluminum or Fiberglass ladders from your wood ones, we have many solutions available Here to get you started on any job.

If you insist on using wooden ladders, protect them with a clear sealer varnish, shellac, linseed oil, or wood preservatives. Wood ladders should not be painted either, as the paint will hide defects and cause an unsafe work environment.

Where can I find information regarding OSHA training regulations for ladder safety?

The grim reality is, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, with ladder falls accounting for 1/3 of these deaths. You owe it to yourself and your employees to stay safe by choosing the right ladder and following safe practices, which OSHA kindly lays out in detail. We have provided PDFs of OSHA safety practices for many applications below, so please take a moment to look through these guidelines.

A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry

Fact Sheet: Safe Use of Stepladders

Fact Sheet: Safe Use of Extension Ladders

Safety and Health Regulations for Construction

Stairways and Ladders: A Guide to OSHA Rules

Use Ladder Safety - General

Where can I learn more about ladder training programs?

There are plenty of ladder safety and training videos available below that will give you comprehensive details on most aspects of any ladder. These are extremely informative, so please look for the ones that pertain to your specific ladder types, as they are categorized in this way.

We have a fantastic Louisville Aluminum Extension Ladder available if this ladder is the right fit for your job!

We carry multiple step ladders perfect for any job Here if you are interested in purchasing one to get your work done safer and more efficiently.

 

Now that you are armed with extensive ladder knowledge, we hope that your work environment is just that much safer and well equipped. If you have more questions regarding ladders or any other topics, please let us know with a comment below and we will gladly create a post pertaining to your request!

 


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