Ladders can be found on almost every type of jobsite. From construction and utilities to the step ladder in the office used to change a light bulb, ladders are everywhere. A damaged ladder is a dangerous ladder. If inspections are not carried out at least monthly, repairs cannot be done, and a company is not shown to be carrying out their due dillgence. This post will focus on what needs to be done for ladder inspection.
I have already discussed how to select the right ladder for the job in an older blog post. To summarize, you need to look at the hazards that exist either for the type of work that is being done or for the particular location. Electricians, for instance, should only use a ladder made of fibreglass to reduce the risk of electrocution. If you weigh more than 200lbs, than you can’t use a light duty or grade 3 ladder. Finally, select the ladder that is the right height and type for the job.
What You’re Checking
Once you have chosen the ladder for the job, you need to do a quick pre-job inspection to ensure that it is not damaged. Check the rungs to be sure they are secured tightly, with no bends, cracks or dents. Check the side rails for bends, dents cracks and hole. If you have a fiberglass ladder, check to ensure the rails are not faded, since this is a sign of sun damage.
For step ladders, check to see if the top is cracked or dented and the spreader arms are securely fastened, move freely and lock properly.
On extension ladders, check to ensure that there is no damage to the slide guides on the rails. The rope assembly must move freely, the rope free from frays, knots and not stretched. The safety feet must be tightly secure to the side rails, the rubber pads free from wear. The gravity locks, which keep the top section in place while work is being done, again check to ensure all connections are tight, the fingers are in good working condition and they move freely. If the gravity locks do not move freely, they won’t be easily secured when you are try to keep the ladder at the height you want. One other thing about the feet: check the cleats on the feet of the extension ladder for damage.
What to Do with Damaged Ladder
Some parts of the ladder can be fixed, but for the most part, if a ladder is damaged, it needs to be disposed of. Once the issue is discovered, tag the ladder out of service. If the part can be repaired or replaced, store it away from other ladders with the tag visible so no one can use it by mistake. Parts of a ladder that can be replaced include: the rope, safety feet, safety labels, the rope pulley, end caps, foot and guide brackets and locks. Damage to the rails and rungs of a ladder cannot be repaired. Any ladder that has a damaged rail or rung must be taken out of service and disposed of.
A ladder inspection is an important part of the maintenance component of a health and safety program. Ladders must be in good repair to ensure that workers are not being put in danger by their use. By checking every day and documenting at least monthly, workers can demonstrate their due diligence and prevent incidents from taking place.