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Video: A Dangerous Fall in a High School

Oct 5, 2016 8:49:55 AM Posted by Steve Ellis, Corp. Health & Safety Director

Dangerous Fall

Working at heights is always dangerous; even small falls can be disabling or fatal. In this video, you'll see a worker engage in unsafe ladder use and just how hazardous that can be. We'll give you 11 essential rules for ladder safety so the same thing doesn't happen to you or your workers. 


            Two maintenance workers were assigned to tape a 6‑foot banner onto the outside surface of a glass wall 12 feet above the entrance doors at a middle school.  A 10‑foot extension ladder and an 8‑foot stepladder were used to perform the task.  Here is an animated depiction of the incident.  

            After setting up a 10‑foot extension ladder and an 8‑foot stepladder, the two workers climbed the ladders to hang the sign at a height of 12 feet.  The maintenance worker on the 8‑foot stepladder cannot reach 12 feet without standing on the top step.  While standing on the top step, this maintenance worker reaches out for a roll of duct tape.  The movement causes the stepladder to suddenly and unexpectedly move in the opposite direction and fall over.  The worker falls head first on to the concrete below. 

It is unsafe to stand on the top step or the end cap of a stepladder.  If you cannot reach the work point without stepping on the top step or the end cap, you need a taller ladder.  It is also unsafe when working from any type of ladder to reach a work point by extending and stretching your arms out, up, or to the front. 


            Here are 11 precautions you can take to prevent injury while working from a ladder:

Always inspect the ladder. 

Choose a ladder that's the right length and strength. 

Maintain 3 points of contact when climbing or working from ladder. 

Don't lean or reach while working on a ladder. 

Always face the ladder when you're climbing or working from it. 

Make sure the ladder feet are on solid surface. 

Use the 4-to-1 rule with extension ladders to establish a safe angle. 

Keep the top and bottom of a ladder clear from clutter. 

Do not use ladders as scaffolds. 

Be alert to nearby activities that can make it unsafe to work from a ladder. 

Finally, keep your eyes and mind on the job.


Topics: Safety Moments, video