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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

Drive by any residential roofing job and in addition to workers crawling across the roof (hopefully tied-off), the sound of pneumatic nailers, and someone’s dreams coming true, you’ll see ladders – lots of ladders. For most residential jobs, ladders are the primary means of roof access for not only personnel, but tools and materials as well. Who hasn’t seen a worker with a bundle of 3-tabs on his shoulder climbing up to supply his co-workers? Unfortunately, however, ladder accidents continue to plague workers (and homeowners) at height, and according to the National Safety Council, accounted for nearly 20,000 injuries and 133 deaths in 2016. The good news is that these injuries and deaths are preventable.

There are three components to a safe ladder access system: Building a stable foundation, securing the ladder to the structure for stability, and ensuring transitions from the ladder to the roof (and back) are safe. Properly account for all three, and you are well on your way to another safe day on the job.

 

From the Bottom Up

Building sites are not always known for their manicured and leveled surfaces - at least not while the job is in progress. All those piles of dirt and uneven surfaces can make finding a level spot to set your ladder more than a challenge. Guardian’s Basemate ladder leveler is the answer. The Basemate quickly and securely attaches to most extension ladders, and its unique leveling mechanism adjusts to just about any bump or dip you can throw at it. With its one-foot operation, the Basemate repositions in an instant, and flipping the feet expose optional claws that dig securely into soft ground. At a mere 17 lbs., it’s one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you could ever add to your ladder.

 

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And incidentally, once you’ve found a good place to set your ladder, making sure it rests at the proper angle is easier than ever with the handy Ladder Safety app from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Ladder Safety app includes a visual angle measuring tool, as well as pertinent information on selecting, setting up, and using ladders – and it’s free! You can find it in the Apple or Google app stores.

Stability is Key

 Now that you’ve got your ladder set and resting at the proper angle, securing the ladder to the structure will help reduce the possibility of kick-out during the transition from the ladder to the roof, high winds, or incidental contact with materials or machinery. Guardian’s Ladder Stability Anchor is a simple, yet robust, tool that securely connects the ladder to the structure. The unique clamp attaches to a rafter or fascia by a T-handle screw without penetration or damage, and the adjustable Velcro strap unobtrusively wraps around the center of a rung to firmly hold the ladder in place. The Ladder Stability Anchor also includes an additional Velcro strap to secure adjacent ladder rungs to minimize the possibility of accidental section separation.

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Life at the Top

One of the trickiest parts of working with ladders is the transition from the ladder to the roof surface. The process requires you to shift your center of gravity away from the center of the ladder, while at the same time stepping onto a raised surface. It’s no wonder why so many accidents occur at this critical time. Enter the Safe-T Ladder Extension. The Safe-T Ladder Extension attaches to the side rails of a ladder and provides two offset handholds that allow you to transition to the roof by stepping over the end of the ladder, versus stepping around the side. The Safe-T ladder extension also helps workers comply with OSHA 1926.1053(b), which requires that ladder rails extend a minimum of 3 feet above the landing surface you are accessing. This is one item you’ll wonder how you ever lived without once you give it a try – it’s that effective.

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Working on ladders can be an inherently dangerous business, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do to reduce the alltoo common injuries found on jobsites across the country. Building a proper ladder access system from the ground up is one of the most effective ways to make sure what goes up, comes down safely.