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Safety is never far from the mind of any industrial engineer or plant manager; in fact, safety is one of those ever-evolving, massively complex issues that can be examined and approached from many different angles. As with any complicated topic, it’s helpful to break it down into smaller, digestible pieces. Since March is National Ladder Safety Month, it makes sense to look at all ladder-based safety protocols that may be used in your facility.

Ladder safety is not a trivial issue; in the 2016 fiscal year, the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violations were Fall Protection (#1), Scaffolding (#3) and Ladders (#7). During the 2014 calendar year, falls caused 40 percent of work-related fatalities in the construction industry.

Hundreds or even thousands of deaths and injuries could be avoided every year with proper use of ladders and fall protection equipment, as well as full compliance with safety standards. As many experienced managers have learned, common sense is not always something you can assume, even in the case of typically excellent employees.

Knowledge is the first and best weapon against improper ladder use. Taking advantage of opportunities like National Ladder Safety Month to brush up on ladder safety and introduce new procedures is important to keep your workforce aware of potential dangers. But you don’t have to do it alone — the American Ladder Institute, the sponsor of National Ladder Safety Month, has a robust educational website built for the occasion. At private companies, like Werner Co., safety is a priority for every product that we manufacture. We are always focused on creating the safest and most efficient jobsites possible. Specifically, we offer a full line of Ladders and Fall Protection products that include step ladders, extensions, multi-purpose ladders, scaffolding, harnesses, lanyards, retractables, anchor connections, vertical and horizontal lifelines, safety compliance kits and a range of accessories. Our commitment to safety extends beyond products, as well — we provide comprehensive information, including safety literature, product use tips, FAQs and even online and onsite safety courses.

Ladder safety is more than just a feel-good movement. There have been major changes in the regulatory environment that should make re-educating your workforce a priority. After more than 15 years of deliberation and work, OSHA published a final rule on Slips, Trips and Falls in November of 2016 that updated a previous rule from 1990. These new standards are not expected to be challenged by Congress, so it will be important for safety professionals to research, understand and implement any applicable changes on the jobsite.

According to OSHA, “The final rule's most significant update is allowing employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems. OSHA has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994 and the final rule adopts similar requirements for general industry. Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level; prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system; and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.”

As a company, Werner Co. stands ready to deploy our highly skilled End User Specialist team for on-site trainings in the proper use of equipment to ensure that companies can comply with these new regulations.

This March, it will be more important than ever for industrial plant managers and other responsible parties to observe National Ladder Safety Month and ensure that their workplaces are safe and efficient at any height. With new regulations in place and the safety of your staff at stake, it makes sense to turn to trusted partners like the American Ladder Institute or us here at Werner Co. We’re here to help, and industrial plant and facility managers should be committed to having their workplaces function as safely as possible. To see more ladder safety tips, start an online ladder safety course or contact us about a training with our End User Specialists, please visit www.wernerladder.com. To learn more about National Ladder Safety Month and take advantage of the American Ladder Institute’s resources, please visit www.laddersafetymonth.com.  

Josh Rizzo is a National Training and Safety Manager.

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