OHS Canada Magazine

Ladder Safety: Supervisor Responsibilities

June 25, 2015
By WorkSafeBC

As a supervisor, you play a key role in making sure the workers under your supervision use ladders safely. Here are some of the things you must do.

Make sure suitable equipment is provided

Ladders may be suitable for:

  • accessing work areas, such as a roof, mezzanine, or scaffolding; and
  • minor maintenance tasks such as caulking, touch-up painting, inspection of gutters or other light-duty tasks that take no more than 15 minutes to complete.

When workers are using ladders on the job, make sure that the ladders:

  • are in good condition;
  • are strong and tall enough to allow workers to complete their work safely; and
  • meet an acceptable standard, such as one by CSA or ANSI.

If you don’t think ladders are the most suitable equipment for the job, let your employer know that a safer alternative, such as a work platform, stairs or a ramp, might be needed.

Make sure workers are trained

  • Participate in ladder-safety training.
  • Provide safety orientations and on-the-job training, as directed by your employer.

Make sure workers set up and use ladders safely

When supervising workers, watch for these key ladder-safety requirements:

  • Ladders must be inspected before use. Damaged or bent ladders must be taken out of service;
  • Ladders must be placed on a firm and level surface and set up so that they are stable and secure;
  • Straight or extension ladders must be set up at the required angle, using the Four-to-One Rule: For every four feet (1.2 metres) up, a worker must place the base of the ladder one foot (0.3 metres) from the wall or upper support it rests against;
  • Supervisors need to make sure workers maintain three-point contact — one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot — when climbing any ladder and when working from a straight or extension ladder;
  • Workers must keep their bodies centred between the side rails; and
  • Workers must step or stand no higher than the step or rung specified on the manufacturer’s label.

Address safety issues

Make sure workers know that they should inform you or their employer about their ladder safety concerns or questions. Take appropriate actions to address safety issues brought to your attention.

WorkSafeBC is British Columbia’s provincial workers’ compensation board, dedicated to promoting workplace health and safety for the workers and employers in the province. For more information on ladder safety, see WorkSafeBC’s Ladder Safety Series at http://www.WorkSafeBC.com.

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