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Quick Quiz

Where is the nearest fire extinguisher right now?
Where is the closest portable fire extinguisher at your normal work area?

It is very important that we each are aware of portable fire extinguisher locations without having to look too hard for too long because in a panic of the moment if a fire was to suddenly occur, seconds count.

More importantly, when is the last time you actually looked at the portable fire extinguisher in your work area? Have you ever?

  • Is it charged fully?
  • Is it damaged?
  • Is it the proper type for the hazards in your area?
  • Is it hung properly?
  • Is it blocked?
  • Has it been hydrostatically tested in the past 5-12 years?

Recently at a facility an employee was killed when he used a portable fire extinguisher to put out a small fire. Corrosion on the bottom of the fire extinguisher was serious enough that the extinguisher case ruptured when it was activated, and parts struck the employee in the chest. A similar accident occurred in 1988.

This fire extinguisher had a rubber boot or cap to protect the bottom of the cylinder case. Moisture has seeped in between the rubber and outside cylinder wall and cause the cylinder to corrode inside the boot. Over time, this corrosion weakened the cylinder and it ruptured when the internal CO2 cylinder was activated. Other extinguishers of this type have been found to have the same type of corrosion underneath the rubber boot.

In-depth inspection and testing of these devices is critical. Especially if your fire extinguishers have rubber or plastic boots or caps and are located in potentially corrosive environments such as:

  • Extinguishers stored outside, unprotected from the weather
  • extinguishers stored in wet or damp environments
  • extinguishers stored neat marine facilities or other water front building, especially those located near salt water

Many contactors have a service come in to inspect their fire extinguishers, either monthly or some other periodic schedule. However, what about the one in your work area? Are you sure that it has been looked at recently? Are you sure it wasn't missed during the last formal inspection?

Take a moment today and take a look at any fire extinguishers in your area. Let us now if you see signs that it is damaged or uncharged so it can be taken out of service and a replacement installed .


SAFETY REMINDER FIRE EXTINGUISHERS SHOULD BE INSPECTED AT LEAST ONCE PER MONTH AND DOCUMENTED BY THE PERSON INSPECTING THE EXTINGHUISHER. 



Gravity never forgets. As soon as you set foot on the ladder's first rung and pull your body off the ground, gravity works to bring you back to earth. Therefore, it's no surprise that ladder safety begins from the ground up.  

Start With A Good Foundation

Proper ladder setup will help prevent slips and falls. Place the base on a firm, solid surface. Avoid slippery, wet or soft surfaces. If you must put the ladder on a soft surface, place a board under the ladder's feet to provide a firm footing. Make sure the top of the ladder has a firm support as well.

Never lean a ladder against a window pane or other unstable surface. If you're using a straight or extension ladder, the angle of the ladder is the next critical safety factor. A straight or extension ladder should be placed 1 foot away from the surface it rest against for every 4 feet of ladder height. For example, if the ladder if 4 feet high the bottom of the ladder should be 1 foot away from the support surface. 

If you use a ladder to access a roof or platform, make sure the ladder extends at least 3 feet over the roof or platform edge. Be sure to securely fasten straight and extension ladders to the upper support. If you have angled the ladder properly and still have doubts about its stability, have someone hold the ladder before climbing up. 

If you're using a step ladder, be sure to open it completely up before you climb. If you have to use a step ladder near a doorway, lock or barricade the door nd post signs so no one will open it and knock you off the ladder. 

Climb With Care

When you climb, always face the ladder and grip the rungs of the ladder to climb, not the side rails. Never get on or off a ladder from the side unless it has been secured to prevent movement.

Never climb with equipment in your hands. Use your pocket, equipment belt, or a tool pouch and raise heavy objects with a hand line. If you forget something, always climb down the ladder to retrieve it yourself; don't have someone toss it up to you. And never ask someone to climb up your ladder to give you supplies. It is dangerous to exceed the weight limits that a specific ladder can handle.

When you descend a ladder, practice the same safety rules. Face the ladder, keep your body square and hold on to the rungs. Lastly, step off at the bottom rung of the ladder. Never jump off of a ladder.

Think Before You Carry

Before you start to haul a ladder around, evaluate the area where you'll be working. Ladders can be heavy and unwieldy. You can strike another person or object, or hit electrical power lines. Make the ladder as compact as possible before transporting it. Carry it horizontally while tilting it higher in front and lower in the back. If the adder is particularly long and heavy, get a coworker to help you carry it.

Follow The Rules

Ladder safety may seem simple, but injuries occur every year. Below are some ladder safety dos and don'ts:

  • Use the right ladder for the job.
  • Inspect the ladder before and after a job.
  • Read all warning labels carefully and follow directions before you climb.
  • Clean the ladder after each use to prevent dirt buildup.
  • Wear clean, dry, slip-resistant shoes and use ladders with slip resistant feet.
  • Don't stand any higher than the third  rung from the top of the ladder.
  • Don't lean too far or overreach. Reposition the ladder close to the work instead.
  • Don't use a ladder as a bridge or scaffold.
  • Don't put a ladder on a box, barrel or other object to gain additional height.
  • Don't use a damaged or unsafe ladder.

Experts also warn about ladder use in bad weather. Descend immediately if high winds, rain or other inclement weather begins. Wind force can blow you off the ladder. Rain can make the rungs and the ground slippery. Bitter cold can make ladders more brittle and can cause other structural damage. If you encounter bad weather while on a ladder, do not speed up to finish the job and risk injury. Wait to finish the job until conditions are once again safe.

SAFETY REMINDER -  DONT LET GRAVITY GET YOU DOWN. PRACTICE LADDER SAFETY RULES EVERYTIME YOU CLIMB TO MAKE YOUR WORK EASIER, FASTER AND SAFER.

Ladders are such common everyday tools that many workers take them for granted. As you read the safety guidelines, you may say: "I know that, that's just plain common sense." You can avoid a ladder injury if you think before you act and use ladders correctly. Your work will be easier and more productive too. Ladder related injuries are preventable, if you think before you climb.