There are a couple of frequently used sayings concerning this type of behavior, such as, “Haste Makes Waste” and “The Hurrier I Go, the Behinder I Get.” Another one which is more closely associated with safety on the job is, “Hurrying-Up Can Hurt.”
These types of accidents are easy to identify, but there are others resulting from being in a hurry that we should consider for a moment. For instance:
- Using the wrong ladder for the job just because it is closer than the one that is the right height.
- Not wearing safety glasses because the job will only take a second.
- Not taking time to properly lock-out and tag machinery you want to make repairs on.
- Carrying a heavy object without first planning a safe route.
- Leaving water or oil on the floor for someone else to wipe up—probably with the seat of their pants.
Sometime, think back to an incident when you nearly got hurt. When you review the circumstances of the near-miss, there is a good chance that hurrying was part of your difficulty. If you took a shortcut, you probably realize, as most of us do sooner or later, the shortcut really didn’t save any time and was not worth the risk involved.
However, it should be pointed out that while hurrying unnecessarily is frowned upon, faster ways of doing things may be beneficial at times. If you think that there is a better way of doing a certain job, by all means bring it to the attention of your Supervisor. But do not proceed to use the new method or make any changes without first getting them approved.
One of the safest means of speeding up operations is through experience. As we become more familiar with our jobs, our efficiency and speed increase. But this is taken into consideration in planning jobs and how they should be handled; and then, of course, we all reach a point where increased speed through experience becomes negligible, and the danger of not remaining alert on the job grows.
Obviously, accidents cost money. So if you think that meeting the cost of living is rough now, just imagine what it would be like if you had to face expenses without a full paycheck because of a work injury. So, both physically and financially, hurrying can hurt.
Let’s be honest, very few of us consciously think about gravity playing a role in construction work, yet the reality is that gravity never forgets to bring you back to earth. 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 should be 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 firm footing. Make sure the top of the ladder has 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' away from the surface it rests against for every 4' of ladder height. For example, if the ladder is 4' high, the bottom of the ladder should be 1' away from the support surface.
- If you use a ladder to access a roof or platform, make sure the ladder extends at least 3' 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 before you climb. If you have to use a step ladder near a doorway, lock or barricade the door and 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 pockets, 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.
- 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 back.
- If the ladder is particularly long and heavy, get a coworker to help you carry it.