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The Simple Steps to Ladder Safety & How to Prevent Falls from Ladders

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 @ 11:00 AM

Do you need to reach something higher than chest/eye level? Do you need a ladder? Do you know how to choose the correct one suited for the task at hand? These preliminary questions were brought up in a previous article I wrote on the subject of ladder safety where I covered some basic information. But seeing as falls from ladders still make up nearly a third of the deaths in the construction industry every year, this article today will cover how to avoid injuries by following some ladder safety tips, ladder "do's & don'ts", and some requirements for training.

Three simple steps to prevent falls:

Plan. Provide. Train.

Ladder Safety Fail - Falls can be prevented.

Deaths resulting from ladder falls are preventable, falls from ladders can be avoided and many lives can be saved each year simply by following safe work practices. Specifically, falls from portable ladders (step, straight, combination and extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries. As said before, these are preventable. A ladder is a tool just like any other, it is made as safe as possible and if used within the scope of its instructions, no harm should befall you. Be sure to take the time to properly understand how to select, set up, and move about on a ladder safely with these safety tips.

  • Read and follow all labels or markings found on the ladder.
  • Always inspect the ladder prior to using it. 
    • If the ladder is damaged, it must be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.
  • Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.
  • Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
  • If you intend to work on a less than stable and level surface, be sure to  secure the ladder (top or bottom) to prevent displacement.
  • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
  • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
  • The ladder’s load rating includes all of the weight it is supporting.
    • This includes yourself and the weight of any tools or equipment.

DO's and DON'Ts of Safe Ladder Use:

DO: Maintain a 3-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) when climbing/descending a ladder.

DO: Face the ladder when climbing up or descending.

DO: Keep the body inside the side rails.

DO: Use extra care when getting on or off the ladder at the top or bottom. Avoid tipping the ladder over sideways or causing the ladder base to slide out.

DO: Carry tools in a tool belt or raise tools up using a hand line. Never carry tools in your hands while climbing up/down a ladder.

DO: Extend the top of the ladder three feet above the landing.

DO: Keep ladders free of any slippery materials.

Step Ladder Safety Fail

DON'T: Use a ladder on soft ground or unstable footing.

DON'T: Exceed the ladder’s maximum load rating.

DON'T: Tie two ladders together to make them longer.

DON'T: Ignore nearby overhead power lines.

DON'T: Move or shift a ladder with a person or equipment on the ladder.

DON'T: Lean out beyond the ladder’s side rails.

DON'T: Use an extension ladder horizontally like a platform.

DON'T:  Place a ladder on boxes, barrels, or unstable bases.

Check, Maintain and Store Ladders Well

Before using a ladder, check it carefully to ensure there are no visible defects and that it is in good working condition. Check the ladder according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Maintain and store the ladder according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Training Requirements

Step Ladder Safety Fail - Use only on stable surfaces

Employers must train all employees to recognize hazards related to ladders and stairways, and instruct them to minimize these hazards. For example, employers must ensure that  each employee is trained by a competent person in the following areas, as applicable:

  • Nature of fall hazards in the work area;
  • Correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, and disassembling the fall protection systems to be used;
  • Proper construction, use, placement and care in handling of all stairways and ladders; and
  • Maximum intended load-carrying capacities of ladders used.

Note: Employers must retrain each employee as necessary to maintain their understanding and knowledge on the safe use and construction of ladders and stairs.

Interested in Fall Protection or Working-At-Heights Training?  Click here for more information!

Tags: fall protection in construction, fall safety, ladder safety, osha general industry training

Office Safety? More Like Hospital Trips for the Uninformed!

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Mon, Jul 01, 2013 @ 12:30 PM

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the worst yet most common type of office injuries in the workplace, but they are also the easiest to correct.

Office safety is very essential in today's world. Not only is it essential but it is also very important to be aware of several safety rules and regulations as this could hamper the smooth functioning of your office due to legal issues. This article does not focus on the legislation regarding workplace safety, but on providing several tips for ensuring that you and your employees have a safe working environment. Staying alert minimizing the risk!

Be sure take time to look around your work area and help to prevent these hazards. Slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents and can result in back injuries, sprains and strains, contusions, and fractures. Slips, trips and falls, sidelined 25,790 workers in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS). The National Safety Council says employees are twice as likely to suffer a disabling fall in an office setting as anywhere else. Falling, specifically, is the most common office accident and results in numerous and disabling injuries.

Slips & Falls

Office safety, slips, trips, fallsStanding on chairs – particularly rolling office chairs – is a significant fall hazard. Workers who need to reach something at an elevated height should use a stepladder.  Stepladders must be fully opened and placed on level, firm ground. Workers should never climb higher than the step indicated as the highest safe standing level. 

Carpeting and other skid-resistant surfaces can serve to reduce falls. Marble or tile can become very slippery – particularly when wet, according to the National Safety Council. Placing carpets down can be especially helpful at entranceways, where workers are likely to be coming in with shoes wet from rain or snow.

Some other simple changes to the workspace can be effective in eliminating hazards and reducing the number of fall injuries. 

  • Clean up all spills immediatelyworkplace safety, slips, trips and falls
  • Close all file cabinets when not in use
  • Ensure sufficient lighting
  • Always use a ladder or stepstool to retrieve anything above shoulder level
  • Remove obstacles from hallways and other high-traffice areas
  • Do not lean back in chairs
  • Regularly have the floors moped clean and dry

If you feel yourself falling, try to hit on your shoulder and roll. You are most likely to absorb more of this impact than falling straight. Don’t reach out with a hand or arm to break your fall, as it may result in a broken limb or hand.

  • Tripping over open drawers or file drawersOffice safety, trips, slips, falls
  • Tripping over electrical cords or wires that run across hallways
  • Tripping over loose carpet or broken tiles or concrete
  • Tripping over objects stored in a hallway, walkway or other areas of high traffic
  • Tripping because of poor lighting
  • Tripping over non-secure mats and rugs

Another major type of injury in the office setting comes from workers being struck by or caught by an object. Incidents of this nature accounted for 15,680 injuries in 2008, according to BLS. 

  • Shut the drawer!
    • File cabinets with too many fully extended drawers could tip over if they are not secured, the council warns. Additionally, open drawers on desks and file cabinets pose a tripping hazard, so be sure to always completely close drawers when not in use. 
  • Safe stacking
    • According to the Office of Compliance (OOC), which oversees the safety of U.S. congressional workers, proper storage of heavy items can help reduce the number of office injuries. Large stacks of materials and heavy equipment can cause major injuries if they are knocked over. OOC recommends storing heavy objects close to the floor, and warns that the load capacity of shelves or storage units should never be exceeded.

Report it

general office safety, trips and fallsAnytime you see something unsafe, report it to your facilities management department or supervisor. Things you might want to point out include sightings of:

  • Torn carpet
  • Loose tiles
  • Wobbly steps or floorboards
  • Burned out light bulbs
  • Broken chairs or desks
  • Other defective equipment
  • Stray electrical cables or obstructions of walkways
  • Possible unauthorized visitors

Promoting safety in the office can be simple with a few great office safety tips. There are many ways to share office safety tips in the workplace. You could have annual safety meetings where the entire company gets together to discuss current safety issues. They are also a great way to implement new safety rules. The biggest benefit of office safety meetings is that any person that has a question can have it answered by you or others in the group.

For the time in between safety meetings you can hang safety posters around the office. The posters can have office safety tips written on them. This will help employees to remember what they learned at the meetings long after they are over.

Safety in the workplace involves making arrangements so as to avoid accidents. At the same time, it also involves being alert to certain hazards and having knowledge about the measures used to overcome them. Here are some examples of the knowledge you & your employers should have regarding office safety.

  • Keep your working area neat and clean
    • Piles of papers and stacks of files combined with a tangle of wires are a disaster waiting to happen, on several fronts. A clean work space will also enable you to identify a problem and tackle it faster and more effectively.
  • Any common area break room should be kept clean.
    • There should be trash cans that are emptied on a daily basis. A broom, mop and other cleaning supplies should be in a closet or close by encase of spills.

Knowledge is power. Safety should be everyone’s top concern.

Training is, again, and extremely important tool in promoting office safety. We can prevent or greatly reduce these types of accidents if we train our people to:

  • Not run in the office
  • Avoid excessive bending, twisting, or leaning backwards while are seated
  • Always use a ladder and not a chair for reaching
  • Wear stable shoes
  • Do not carry anything that obstructs your vision

Administrative controls

In addition to employee training and improved equipment, certain administrative controls can aid hazard recognition and the elimination of potentially dangerous situations. 

  • Conduct walkthroughs.Periodically walking around the office can help with hazard recognition and maintenance of ergonomic task design.

  • Monitor signs of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Recognizing the symptoms of MSDs can alert employees of the need to make an ergonomics alteration to their workstation. But workers need to know what those warning signs are.
  • Talk to employees about their concerns. Simply asking workers how they are feeling can go a long way toward recognizing hazards.
  • Establish employee reporting systems. Establishing an employee reporting system can be the best way for organizations to get a handle on potential hazards before they cause injury. Consider creating an anonymous reporting process that encourages workers to come forward with their concerns. 

general office safety, trips and fallsAn office environment is considered to be one of the safest work environments, therefore to ensure a safe work environment; each individual must employ common sense, know physical limitations, display an attentive attitude towards their surroundings, and become aware of applicable compliance codes.


Safety Training Services, Inc. can help! Whether its general office safety training topics like OSHA-compliance training (OSHA-10 General Industry), safety auditing or even rescue serices available to your company, contact us to find out how we can become your all-inclusive safety company!

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Tags: general safety tips, osha compliance, fall safety, slips, office safety, general office safety, workplace safety, trips and falls, safety training topics

Ladder Safety: Do I Fall in Line?

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Tue, May 14, 2013 @ 09:30 AM

"Falls are the leading cause of death in construction and every year, falls from ladders make up nearly a third of those deaths. These deaths are preventable. Falls from ladders can be prevented and lives can be saved by following safe work practices."


Do I Need a Ladder?

In order to answer this simple question, first you must ask yourself the following questions (as indicated by OSHA):

  1. Will I have to hold heavy items while on the ladder?
  2. Is the elevated area high enough that it would require a long ladder that can be unstable?
  3. Will I be working from this height for a long time?
  4. Do I have to stand on the ladder sideways in order to do this work?

According to OSHA, if the answer to any of these questions is a "Yes," then you may want to revisit the idea and consider using something other than a ladder (scissor lift, scaffolding, etc.)

Choosing the Right Ladder for the Job

Ladder Safety
  • Ensure the ladder is high enough for you to reach your work area without having to stand on the top rung.
  • When using ladders to access another level, secure and extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the landing point to provide a safe handhold.
  • The base of the ladder should be secured.
  • Wear proper footwear
  • Place the ladder on stable and level ground. DO NOT place it on an uneven surface.
  • Ensure that the ladder is fully extended before starting work.
  • Prevent passersby from walking under or near ladders in use by using barriers or getting your coworker to act as a lookout.
  • Do not work on the top rung of the ladder.
  • Ladder Safety - Improper UseMaintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Do not carry any tools or materials in your hands when climbing a ladder.
  • Do not lean away from the ladder to carry out your task. Always keep your weight centered between the side rails.
  • Do not use ladders near doorways. If you need to use a ladder near a doorway, make sure that the door is locked.

Ladder Maintenance

Before use, visually check ladder for defects. Make sure there are no visible defects and that it's in good working condition. Always remember to maintain and store the ladder properly. Said information should always be found via manufacturer's instructions.
After checking ladder, make sure not to use if ladder:

  • is faulty.
  • is bent.
  • is missing a step.
  • has spreader bars that do not have a locking device or mechanism.
Ladder safety is so important because fall accidents CAN BE PREVENTED! Proper training gives an individual the knowledge and ability to get home safely every time.
Safety Training Services, Inc. is available to meet and exceed your expectations on appropriate ladder safety training and other OSHA compliance training! Find out why how we can bring value to you and your company today. Click below for more information on our OSHA compliance training courses!
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Tags: fall protection in construction, fall safety, ladder safety, general ladder safety, osha general industry training, osha fall protection general industry

Web Series on General Office Safety - Part 4 of 4

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 @ 03:01 PM

We're finally here! Welcome back to the 4th (and final) part of Safety Training Service's web series on general office safety! If you haven't had a chance to read parts 1 through 3, you may find them here:

 Part One | Part Two | Part Three

According to OSHA, the majority of general industry accidents come in the form of slips, trips, and falls. These can result in back injuries, strains and sprains, contusions, and fractures.

OSHA also states that 15% of all accidental deaths are caused by slips, trips, and falls. In fact, they are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities. The standards for slips, trips, and falls are in the Code of Federal Regulations, under the heading "Subpart D" or 29 CFR 1910.22-30. This covers cause and prevention and included are housekeeping, ladder safety, floor openings and stairways.

Simpsons - Fall SafetySlips can occur when floors or other working surfaces become slippery due to wet or oily processes, floor cleaning, leaks, or from materials and debris left in walkways.

Trips can occur due to uneven floor or working surfaces, protruding nails and boards, from stretched carpet or bunched floor mats intended to prevent slipping, from holes or depressions in working surfaces, and from step-risers that are not uniform in height.

Falls can be a result of both slips and trips. In addition, improper ladder maintenance/use and stairways or elevated working surfaces that are not designed properly can result in a fall accident.

What can cause slips, trips, and falls? Just to name a few, ice, wet spots, grease, polished floors, loose flooring or carpeting, uneven walking surfaces, clutter, electrical cords, open desk drawers/filing cabinets, damaged ladder steps.

Here's a great compiled list of possible solutions for prevention. Some should be obvious, but ignored:
  • Keep walkways and stairs clear of scrap and debrisSimpsons - Slips, Trips, and Falls
  • Coiling up extension cords, lines, and hoses when not in use
  • Keeping electrical and other wires out of the way
  • Wearing lug soles in icy weather
  • Clearing parking lots, stairs, and walkways in snowy weather
  • Using salt/sand as needed
  • Where wet or potentially wet working conditions, maintain proper drainage and provide false floors, platforms, nonslip mats or floor surfaces, or other dry standing places (where practicable)
  • Create nonslip surfaces in slippery areas by using no-skid waxes and/or grit-coated products
  • Use slip-resistant footwear
  • If a floor or working surface becomes wet, clean promptly and frequently
  • Use/provide warning signs for wet floors
  • Power/electrical cords that must cross walkways/aisles should be taped down (it is preferable to avoid this entirely by using floor plugs, if possible)
  • Walkways/aisles should be kept clear at all times and should be wide enough for easy movement
  • Carpet bulges or bunched up areas of carpet should be re-laid or stretched to prevent tripping
  • Keep cabinets/drawers closed
  • Eliminate clutter, obstructed work areas, and uneven floor surfaces
  • Good lighting should be provided for all halls and stairwells, especially at night
  • Stairs should have proper handrails and treads/risers should be maintained with slip-resistant surfaces, if possible
  • Use handrails on stairs, don't run, and request help managing bulky loads. You must have an unobstructed view of the stairs
  • Elevated storage and work surfaces should have guardrails, toe boards, and a permanent means of access
  • Floor drains, pits, or any other floor opening should be covered or protected with guardrails
  • Ladders should be properly maintained and have evenly spaced rungs and nonslip safety feet to reach items.
  • Stools, chairs, boxes are NOT substitutes for ladders!
  • Employees should be properly trained in the safe use of ladders

Ergonomics in the workplace

Having a comfortable work environment promotes a healthy physical and mental lifestyle. Adapting the workplace to you as a worker is the goal of an ergonomics program. But what really is "ergonomics?" It is a term often used and often misunderstood.
Ergonomics (according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary) is "an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely." Ergonomics aims to improve the practicality, efficiency, and safety of a person working with a single machine or device (e.g., using a telephone, driving a car, or operating a computer terminal).
Setting up your workspace

You should set up your workspace into THREE zones:
  1. Primary Zone - This will be all the items you use on a very regular basis. This is the distance from your elbow to your hand. Such items may include your keyboard, mouse, and a notepad.
  2. Secondary Zone - These are the items within your arm's reach. Position the items that you use often but not as frequently as the ones in your primary zone. What do you use periodically? Maybe its your phone, calculator, and some trays for paperwork.
  3. Reference Zone - This is for your least-often used items. This zone is outside your arm's reach. Could be whatever you personally use least, it might be a utensil cup, plant(s), clock or even photos.

Ergonomics includes adjustments to your "body" as well. Listed below is 10 things to adjust, if necessary, to "you" in order to enhance your comfort at in your workplace.

  1. Take frequent recovery pauses from typing.Simpsons - Ergonomics
  2. Maintain a straight wrist position when typing.
  3. Avoid resting on your wrists while typing.
  4. Use a light touch on mouse and keys while typing.
  5. Maintain good health habits.
  6. Adjust keyboard and chair height to keep wrists straight.
  7. Place mouse next to the keyboard.
  8. Keep your feet on the floor or use a footrest for support.
  9. Support your lower back and use armrests, if possible, to comfortably support your arms.
  10. Throughout the day, adjust your chair positions, your posture and vary your tasks.

If you are using a laptop computer, optimizing its work surface, ergonomically speaking, can be a bit tricky. A special base that helps adjust the height and angle of a laptop monitor for a healthier and more comfortable work experience has been developed for exactly this situation.

Visual Discomfort
Research to date has not found any permanent effects on vision from computer use. However, eye strain and visual discomfort can result in reduced performance. In fact, it is the most common complaint among computer users. 
So what do you DO about it? Its 2012, so chances are, computers are not going anywere anytime soon so here are some tips to help avoid eye strain at the computer:
  • Blink more! We blink only 1/5th as much looking at a computer monitor as reading a newspaper. Try lowering your monitor so you are looking down, in order to help promote this.
  • Move your monitor back a little bit. Our eyes are adapted for distance vision. Yet, most office work is done close to our eyes. Compensate for this by moving your chair periodically or adjust the distance/height of your monitor.
  • Have a bigger monitor? Try increasing the size of your font/images. And of course, move back further from the screen.
  • Try moving documents/items on your screen to different sides. Right eye dominant? Left eye? Try moving your email/documents to the left or the right and see if that is more comfortable for you.
  • What about after all these tips, you still seem to have some discomfort? Try some glasses or seeing an eye care specialist. Seriously, its not the 70's/80's anymore, that stigma of the nerdy kid with glasses is gone! Get a sweet pair for the sole purpose of reading/working with computer monitors or similar devices. I am wearing mine as I type this, but use them generally just for this purpose and take them off when not working.
Regarding lighting of the work surface; it is suggested to have a ceiling light hung right above your computer monitor. This maximizes lighting of the overall work surface with minimal glare on the monitor itself. Not possible? Completely understandable. But lighting can have a considerable effect on both your comfort and performance. How? Oh, I'm so glad you asked. Let's take a look:

Fluorescent lights?

Harsh, excessively bright. Causes eye strains and glare.

Too little lighting?

Eye strain with paper documents, "gloomy" work atmosphere.


Can cause lighting/glare problems, but given the choice most people would probably prefer having natural light and a view.

Direct Sunlight?

Not adjustable, unfortunately. Can be much brighter then what is actually needed.

Improving lighting has many benefits. It can reduce glare, increase work productivity and quality, and save on energy! Lighting should be lower then that for reading (many due to the computer monitor giving off its own light). The best way to optimize light levels should be to set a low level overall (overhead/indirect lighting), and use task lighting for situational use (desk lamps, undercabinet lights, etc.). 

Two things I would like to mention, but won't spend as much time on is temperature/humidity and noise.

Its pretty simple actually, too high of a temperature cause fatigue and uncomfortablity which leads to slumping & slouching. Awkward postures are too be avoided, as they are bad for your health. Too cold of a temperature can lead to muscle tension, increased risk for tendinitis, and other such health risks/issues. Humidity also falls into this discussion, seeing as too low a level can cause dry skin and reduced snsation in your fingertips (increasing the amount of force necessary for various tasks). Too much humidity can make your environment feel "stuffy" and the temperature seems higher than it actually is. Humidity also has an effect on actual or perceived indoor air quality.
Noise usually is not an issue as far as being damaging to our hearing in an office environment, but the fact that it can be darn distracting to some makes it potentially devastating to worker productivity and/or performance. I can go on and on (I probably will later in another blog specifically geared towards noise in the workplace) but will cut to the important stuff for right now--what to DO when a noise problem arises!
  • Reduce or eliminate at the source whenever possible.Office Space - Milton
  • Maintain equipment to prevent noisy malfunctions.
  • Isolate or enclose equipment that generates noise even when it's in good repair.
  • Have conference rooms available for meetings and conversations.
As far as just a neighbor who playing music too loud? Be polite and ask them to turn it down or use headphones (if possible). 


Simpsons - Proper LiftingIf lifting is included in an employee's tasks, then the employer is obligated to teach the employee the best way to lift. You may choose to have safety training for your employees covering ergonomics and lifting limits. Ultimately employees should know how to properly lift, when to get help, and when to use mechanical means rather than manually lifting an object.
Well, I am here to help with 5 solid tips to lift by:
  • Keep object close to the body, don't reach out for an object.
  • Move slowly and purposefully, don't jerk or twist.
  • Feet should be shoulder width apart.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back!
  • Keep the back in a neutral position, bending should be done at the hips and knees. Keep knees slightly bent, never locked straight.
Proper Lift Technique
Rest/Stretch/Exercise Breaks
Breaks are encouraged! They help workers with a few minutes of recovery from the mental and physical demands of their jobs. This doesn't mean I'm trying to telling you to be a slacker, but micro breaks (1-3 minutes every hour, or half hour even) has shown to reduce discomfort while improving productivity. Use this time to get something to drink, have a quick stretch or even do some light exercise. 

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Tags: proper lifting technique, fall safety, slips, general office safety, ergonomics, trips and falls, safety training topics