One of the most important tools that a roofer has at their disposal is a reliable ladder. Because of this, employers must make sure they are taking every necessary step to ensure their workers are utilizing ladders in the safest and smartest way possible.
– Always secure stable and level surfaces for your ladder’s footing. Depending on the jobsite, workers may need to secure the ladder to eliminate the hazard of the equipment slipping or shifting (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(6)).
– Never place a ladder in areas of high traffic, such as driveways or doorways (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(8)).
– Always maintain three points of contact — two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand. Workers shouldn’t carry items when climbing up or down ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(22)). Tools or materials can be placed in a bucket next to the ladder and pulled up after the worker is secured onto the workplace.
Extension ladders are one of the two most common ladders utilized by roofers, and workers must ensure extension ladders aren’t set at an angle — OSHA requires the horizontal distance between the top support and the foot of the ladder to be approximately one-quarter the working length of the ladder (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(5(i)).
When setting up your extension ladder, the side rails need to extend to a minimum of three feet above the upper workplace surface (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(1)). If this is not possible, the worker should secure the top of the ladder to a rigid surface and utilize a grasping device to mount/dismount the ladder.
The second most common ladder utilized in the roofing industry is the step ladder. As tempting as it might be, workers should refrain from using the top or top step of the ladder as a step, as the top/top step is not equipped to handle the pressure of a worker and has the potential to cause serious injury (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(13)).
When deciding on what type of stepladder is best for the application at hand, consult the following chart provided by OSHA: