Introduction

It's better to put a fence at the top of a cliff than to park an ambulance at the bottom. Instead of catching the climber after the fall, let's design the product to prevent the fall from occurring. Stop climbing Grandpas ladder and lets improve ladder safety through better design. Even with a renewed emphasis on ladder safety training the numbers of ladder related injuries continues to rise. In 2008, the CPSC estimated that more than 500,000 people were injured while using a ladder or stepstool. In 2010, the estimate rose to 724,000—that's nearly 2,000 people injured every day. Experts estimate that 100 people will suffer a long-term or permanent disability each day. And 1 person will die, every day.

As I travel around the country speaking about ladder safety I have the opportunity to meet with groups from different industries and talk about their ladder problems. Some industries face very unique challenges but most are very similar. Ladder accidents occur because of complacency. People have been climbing ladders since they were little children on the playground and they don't consider ladders as safety equipment. Another common complaint is that several ladder related rules are almost impossible to keep and get the work done so it becomes accepted to break the rule. How do you tie off a ladder before you climb it? How to maintain three points of contact while getting the work done? Some of these concerns can be addressed through training but some need innovation and design changes.

Training

Safety professionals need to know there are great training resources available. The American Ladder Institute (ALI) has developed the best online ladder safety training available at www.laddersafetytraining.org. The free site provides a pre-test, an informative training video, a post-test, and a printed certificate of completion. The site also allows safety managers load groups of employees and tracks the training of their employees. Also, in my role as national safety director at Little Giant Ladder Systems, I travel to organizations and jobsites all over the country performing live ladder safety training events at no charge. The resources are out there; you just have to know where to look.

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