According to SafeWork Australia, 12.9 per cent of worker fatalities from 2012 to 2016 were due to falls from heights, making it the second leading cause of work-related fatal injuries in the country. In the farming sector, many of these accidents occur due to the improper use of agricultural ladders.
Most ladder accidents, however, are avoidable. Safety organisations advise users to remember that tripod ladders are not for general use, and they should only encompass their common purposes, such as picking fruit and tree pruning.
Employers can also prevent most ladder accidents by training their workers on the proper way of using ladders in the workplace. This includes the proper way of lifting the ladders around the orchard as moving them could cause accidents.
The quality of ladders should also be the top priority of employers. They should inspect that the ladders, for instance, have a wide base for optimum stability and are made of strong materials, such as aircraft-grade aluminium. The rungs should likewise be sturdy and made from a non-slip material.
While tripod ladders are the safest for agricultural use, it is crucial that workers do not become negligent to safety measures. Workers can avoid ladder accidents by following some simple precautions that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration listed down.
• Employees should conduct a daily safety check. This includes looking for cracked or bent metal, excessive mud on the rail or rungs, and hinge connections.
• Before setting up the ladder, workers should examine the ground where they will place the ladder. It should be firm on the ground to keep it from collapsing or slipping. They should make sure that the ladder is not positioned over a soft, wet or uneven spot.
• Common falls happen on the upper part of the ladder. Workers should remember that the top of the ladder should not be used as a step. They should also be wary of muddy shoes, which could cause slipping off the ladder.
Employers must likewise make sure that workers wear protective equipment, fitting clothes, and non-slip shoes with stiff soles.