The Usage and Risks of an Everyday Step Ladder
Step ladders are a convenient way to make use of height-related tasks by rather safer means than, for example, a construction ladder. A step ladder is a portable aid made up of two parallel or slightly convergent pieces joined at intervals by crossbars and used to raise or lower a person from one level to another. There are different types, among them we highlight:
- Simple one-section ladder: Portable ladder that is not self-supporting and not adjustable in length, made up of two stringers.
- Scissor ladder: The sections are joined by means of a metal articulation device that allows their folding.
- Extendable ladder: It is a ladder composed of two simple ones superimposed and whose length varies by relative displacement of one section over another. They can be mechanical (cable) or manual.
- Mixed ladder with ball joint: The sections are joined by means of a metal articulation device that allows their folding. Both can be made of different materials: wood, steel, aluminum, fiberglass, etc.
There are nevertheless many risks involved with using step ladders, some of which, include:
- Lateral sliding of the upper part of the ladder caused by poor support, improperly positioned ladder, wind, lateral displacement of the user, etc.).
- Slipping of the foot of the ladder caused by lack of non-slip shoes, floor that gives way or slopes, little inclination, superior support on the wall, etc.
- Imbalance when climbing the ladder with loads.
- Breakage of a step or upright (old, badly repaired, bad inclination of the ladder, existence of knots,…).
- Slipping on rungs (dirty rung, unsuitable footwear, dirty shoe sole, etc).
- Tipping back a ladder that is too short, installed too vertically.
- Climb or descend a ladder with your back to it.
- Poor position of the body, hands or feet.
- Falling objects on people.
- Direct and indirect electrical contacts, for carrying out work near power lines.
- Breakage of the chain or rope connecting the two planes of a double stepladder.
This risk is more common when using a metal ladder in electrical work or near electrical conduits. We must not forget that wooden stairs when wet can be an electrical hazard. When transported by a single worker, the ladder must be transported with the front part up, never in a horizontal position.
The simplicity of use of ladders makes us think that it is not necessary to have any special knowledge in handling them. However, if certain safety measures are not taken, accidents can occur.