Ladder safety protocols are an essential but often overlooked aspect of roofing work. Improper ladder usage is dangerous business, and can lead to serious injury. According to the IHSA, each year more than 300 long-term injuries are caused by falls from a ladder in the Ontario construction industry. That’s why it is so important to have roofers who are trained with the proper operation of ladders and know how to spot danger zones to ensure worker safety.
Protecting Your Roof Workers
In Ontario, workers need to be certified with the “Working At Heights” certification and refresh this course once every three years. The training is mandatory for heights above three feet, which essentially means that every single roofing worker should have this certification. The training goes over the protocols necessary for roofing safety, including:
1. 3 Point Contact:
At any time during ladder work, there must be three points of contact with the ladder. This means two feet and one hand or one foot and two hands. When using tools on the ladder, they should always be secured in a belt or hoisted in order to maintain the 3-point contact.
2. Ladder Inspection & Securement:
Before any work is done, each rung of the ladder should be tested for missing parts of loose materials. The ladder should be secured at all times during use, tying it at the top of the bottom of the structure and testing that it is sturdy.
3. Ladder Positioning:
The ladder should be placed at an angled position. To test the ladder angle, you should be able to stand straight with arms extended and touch the ladder. If you cannot reach the ladder, the angle is too wide, and if you can reach it without fully extending, the ladder is too steeply set. The ladder should also be positioned beyond the secured surface so that no extension is involved in getting up or down.
4. Proper Ladder Usage Protocols:
Only one worker should be using the ladder at one time, and face the ladder when climbing up or down.
5. Ladders Must Be A Safe Distance From Electrical Lines:
Metal ladders are conductive, and it is therefore extremely important that ladders are kept at least 10 feet away from live electrical lines.
6. Different Ladders For Different Projects:
Not all ladders are created equal. It is important to choose the right ladder for the project that is being done. Pay attention to the duty rating of your ladder. Most ladders have maximum weight capacities of up to 375 pounds. This is an especially important consideration when ladders are being utilized for industrial work, and equipment is being carried. We’ve provided some examples below:
The material of the ladder is also important to consider. When doing electrical work, some prefer to use wooden or fiberglass ladders, which are non-conductive and safer to use (however, wood does become conductive when wet).
Ladders may be the simplest way to reach a roof, but it is not always the best way. According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, it is not enough for ladder safety protocols to be adhered to, employers must also assess if a ladder is the safest way to access the project at hand.
Want to know more about roofing safety protocols? Chat with us now to find out more.