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Stepladder safety at work

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Photo: DonNichols/iStockphoto

Whether you’re decorating a co-worker’s office to celebrate a birthday, stringing lights during the holidays or changing a lightbulb, stepladders are handy tools to have on hand at work. But just because stepladders seem simple to use doesn’t mean they’re risk-free. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety has the following advice for workers using a stepladder:

  • Check the stepladder’s load rating to ensure it can support your weight and any tools you will be using while standing on it.
  • Choose a stepladder that is roughly 3 feet shorter than the highest point you need to reach, as this will provide you with a wider and more stable base.
  • Never use a stepladder that is cracked or corroded or that has loose rivets, defective braces or parts. Additionally, make sure the stepladder doesn’t have a slippery substance on it, such as oil or grease.
  • Fully open the stepladder’s spreaders and shelf and lock its braces. The stepladder should be stable and the feet should be on a firm, even surface.
  • Keep the stepladder close to the task at hand to avoid overreaching.
  • If your knees are above the top of the stepladder, you’ve climbed too high.

Don’t do it

A fall from a stepladder can result in serious injuries, so workers should be aware of some bad practices to avoid. According to CCOHS, don’t:

  • Attempt to “walk” a stepladder while standing on it
  • Stand, climb or sit on the top of a stepladder
  • Have more than one person on a stepladder at a time
  • Place a stepladder on a wet or otherwise slippery surface
  • Climb up or down in a sideways position
  • Climb the back of a stepladder

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