When it comes to having a long and successful career in skilled trades, staying safe on the job is essential.   

Ladders are often considered a simple tool, however, when not used safely they can lead to serious injury. From 2012 to 2014 more than 1,000 B.C. construction workers were injured or killed due to falls from ladders — a rate that translates to approximately one fall per day, for three years.

“The numbers show there is work to be done,” says Chris Back, Manager of Industry and Labour Services at WorkSafeBC. “When you fall from a ladder, your chances of serious injury are significant — we’re talking about fractures, concussions, even fatalities.”

Safety first

Staying safe doesn’t have to be about rules and regulations. Instead, Back says, when a company makes safety a priority for everyone from the top executives to the workers on the job site, it becomes their way of doing business.

“Positive safety culture means people within the organization have a shared set of values and vision about safety all the time, it’s something that is just natural to them when they do their work,” he says.  

Stepping up

If your task involves working at heights, the first step to safety is encouraging workers and organizations to “assess the hazards and the work you’re going to be doing and determine whether or not a ladder is the best tool or could there be a safer alternative,” says Back. For instance, if a job requires working at height for a long time, scaffolding or a platform ladder could be a better choice.

If a ladder is the best option, then the proper precautions need to be taken, such as selecting the appropriate ladder for the job and setting it up according to safety regulations.  Workers also need to be familiar with proper ladder use. Specifically, having three points of contact with the ladder — two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand — at all times while climbing up or down the ladder.
Simple safety steps like these can mean the difference between success and serious injury on the job.