“Idiots on Ladders” contest an important reminder

Falls from ladders are one of the leading causes of injuries to construction workers in B.C. It takes only a split second for things to go seriously wrong. 

Photo of man leaning sideways off a ladder to wash a window

Photo credit: iStock.com/Mark-W-R

You won’t see much name-calling in this blog, but I’m going to make an exception and tell you about this photo gallery of the Ladder Association’s “Idiots on Ladders” contest, which I found on EHS Today.

The photos speak for themselves, really, showing us a number of ways to NOT use ladders. They may seem pretty funny at first – “Haha! What an idiot!” – but it’s really tragic to think of all the loved ones, co-workers, clients, and other people who are affected when things go sideways (literally).

Falls from ladders are one of the leading causes of injuries to construction workers in B.C. Even though most falls from ladders happen in construction, it’s also a problem in other industries. WorkSafeBC has many ladder safety resources for employers and workers, available in multiple languages.

Another resource is the NIOSH Ladder Safety smart phone app that includes an inclination indicator and graphic guides for ladder selection, inspection, positioning, accessorizing, and safe use.

I wish the risk-takers in the photo gallery would read Setting Up a Ladder and pay close attention to these important points:

  • Ladder tops must rest against a firm structure
  • Ladders must extend about one metre (three feet) above a safe landing or parapet wall
  • Ladders must be set up with a four vertical to one horizontal slope
  • Ladders must be tied, blocked, or otherwise secured to prevent them from slipping
  • The base of a ladder’s side rails must rest on a firm, level foundation

It’s pretty shocking to think people would use ladders as shown in these photos, and I really hope no one was hurt or killed after the photos were taken. I wonder if they are taking the classic “just for a minute” risk – forgetting that it takes only a split second for things to go seriously wrong.

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