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Techniques in Training: Enforcing Ladder Safety Rules

- July 8, 2016 by Mike Pettit (View all posts by Mike)

Ladders are found in nearly every workplace and are consistently a leading cause of workplace injuries. How is it that such a common tool continues to drive up work comp costs for businesses—especially in the construction industry? One potential answer: workers aren’t following best safety practices. You may already know some guidelines that can help reduce the likelihood of ladder incidents. So—for this “Techniques in Training” post, I’d like to propose a solution that may help team leaders enforce these safety rules on their jobsite. I have created a fun and simple acronym that will help remind work crews of the proper rules of ladder safety—S.I.S.C.U.

As you train your staff this acronym, explain what each letter stands for so that S.I.S.C.U. is embedded in their memory.

  • Selection – Select  a ladder (and ladder accessories) that is being used for the desired task. For example-You should not use a folded A-frame ladder to lean against a wall, or use a 6’ ladder when the job calls for an 8’ ladder.
  • Inspection – Always inspect a ladder before it is used. Things to inspect for include checking for bent or broken rungs, and split or damaged side rails. Don’t forget to check the rungs and bottom of your shoes for slippery material!
  • Set Up – Only use a ladder that is resting on a sturdy and level surface. Do not use boxes or barrels to obtain additional height. If an extension ladder is used, properly secure the ladder to the structure to prevent shifting and movement.
  • Climbing – Face the ladder and maintain three points of contact at all times when you are climbing. (3-Point Rule–both hands, one foot; or, one hand, both feet).
  • Use – Remain within the perimeter of the ladder (a good rule of thumb is to keep the armpit within the sides of the ladder to prevent overreaching). Also do not move, shift, or extend the ladder while using.

To help your employees remember this acronym, I additionally recommend putting a label with S.I.S.C.U. on each ladder in your workplace. This will remind your employees the rules of ladder safety and most importantly keep them safe. And remember—keeping your employees safe means less claims, and lower ex-mods!

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will share my recommendations how to secure extension ladders to structures.