Ladder safety touches all industries because ladders are used for so many tasks. Employers, supervisors, and workers all have roles in ladder safety.
In B.C., a hospitality worker died after falling 17 feet from a ladder while checking a smoke detector at the top of a vaulted ceiling in a loft apartment.
I read about this tragedy in the Incident Summary section of a new Ladder Safety Portal from WorkSafeBC. It also includes the story of a retail worker who lost consciousness after falling 6 feet onto a concrete floor from a stepladder while painting a wall, along with many more descriptions of ladder incidents at different types of workplaces.
“It’s sorted very specifically to ladders,” says WSBC’s Brenda Matsalla, senior regional officer of Emerging Issues, Prevention, who led the Ladder Portal project. “It does touch all industries because we see that it’s a ubiquitous piece of equipment that is used in all industries.”
Levels of responsibility
Employers, supervisors, and workers all have different roles to play. I asked Brenda how she would describe the differences among the three roles.
“The employer is ultimately responsible for health and safety under the Workers Compensation Act. Also under the Act are supervisor and worker responsibilities. They all need to do their part to make sure a ladder is used safely so no one falls,” Brenda says. “For example, employers are required to provide training to all workers on how to properly climb and work from a ladder, supervisors must pay attention to how workers are using ladders, and workers are expected to follow safe ladder practices.”
It’s worth noting that some of the illustrations in the new ladder series are from the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive – from some of the many resources they offer for free. I read the HSE updates regularly, and here’s a link to one of their ladder safety publications, Using Ladders Safely, which talks about what to look for during pre-use checks of ladders.