Ladder inspections can head off tragedies from sudden failure

by on September 6, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Here’s a tragedy that shows that ladder inspections, not just proper ladder use, are critical for worker safety.

A 57-year-old City of Philadelphia worker died when a ladder failed underneath him. Subsequent investigation showed two bolts came loose, causing William Sweeney of the city’s Office of Fleet Management to fall 10 feet and hit his head on the concrete floor. He endured two brain surgeries, but died days later.

Spot subtle signs of wear
To head off tragedies like this one, a supervisor can make sure:

  • A competent person, trained in ladder inspections, does a thorough ladder inspection at least quarterly. They should be trained in spotting both obvious and subtle signs of wear, such as corrosion and splits/cracks on hardware, side rails and rungs.
  • They should also look for anything obvious that’s been tolerated during daily use – such as missing hardware, bent siderails/feet, and oil/grease or other slippery substances that have been tolerated. Anything wrong should count as a “near miss” and trigger discussions and/or refresher training.
  • Workers should inspect ladders before each use. Corroded hardware should mean the ladder’s taken out of service. Remember: When ladders fail, the only direction workers can go is down.

photo credit: thisreidwrites

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