Accidents are bound to happen, but in roofing, these otherwise preventable accidents can have dire consequences. It’s why work-related fatality rates for roofers are more than 10 times the national average.
Falls continue to be a leading cause of accidents in the roofing industry. With March being National Ladder Safety Month, now is a perfect time to brush up on proper ladder usage to prevent fall and ladder-related accidents.
According to the American Ladder Institute (ALI), there are a few common mistakes workers make when using a ladder. They are:
- Disregarding weight ratings. Your weight may not have fluctuated much over the years, but what the scale says isn’t the only thing a ladder is bearing. Combine the weight of any tools, clothing and other equipment you’re carrying along with your weight before selecting what ladder to use.
- Taller ladders mean more weight. Simply put, a taller ladder doesn’t mean it has a higher weight rating. If you’re carrying heavy items on a ladder, check its duty rating first. This is the total amount of weight a ladder can support.
- Not worrying about ladder safety. It’s just a ladder, everyone knows how to use one, right? Wrong. Ladder safety is a must in roofing. Not only are falls from height the third most common disabling workplace injury, but 75.7% of respondents to an ALI survey believed ladder safety training could have prevented ladder accidents.
Falls aren’t the only concern of using a ladder. Being mindful of surroundings is just as important for preventing injuries. Recently, two Canadian roofers were sent to the hospital when their ladder grazed a power line. In September 2018, a 16-year-old male roofer died as a result of electrocution after hitting a power line with an extended 25-foot ladder.
Werner Ladder, one of the biggest manufacturers of climbing products and fall protection equipment, is once again sponsoring National Ladder Safety Month. Each week will focus on a different aspect of using ladders:
- March 1-7: Ladder Safety Trainings and Year Round Partners
- March 8-14: Ladder Safety at Work
- March 15-21: Ladder Safety at Home
- March 22-28: Ladder Inspection and Disposal
To help prevent future accidents, Werner Ladder is offering free online training, safety videos, sharing ladder safety tips through digital outreach, and offering a free safety training or product demo.
Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides a number of tips on using ladders on its website. These include maintaining a three-point contact on the ladder (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) and not using the top rung/step of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
Companies like Werner are continuing to create products that enhance ladder safety, like the LEANSAFE X3 multi-purpose ladder. Meanwhile, the Sten Step — created by a general contractor — allows workers to safely navigate extension ladders by eliminating the offset.
Once you’ve studied up, take our ladder safety quiz to test your ladder know-how!