Florida Roofing Magazine- March 2022

Page 26

Ladder Safety Jim Brauner, Owner, Brauner Safety Services The most important piece of roofing contractors’ equipment is the ladder. Used every day to get from the ground to the roof safely, to tear-off and install a new roof system and to make repairs or perform maintenance. The ladder is often the most abused piece of equipment. It is frequently taken for granted. I have even heard people say, “It’s just a ladder, it’s made for the abuse.” Ladders get thrown up on vehicle ladder racks and pulled off when we get to the job. They get dropped on the way to or from the truck or while setting up at the jobsite. Let’s look at types of construction ladders and the safety and maintenance requirements when using them. Consider the scope of work that your company performs every day to help you make the right decisions on which type of ladders to purchase. We will look at the choice between aluminum and fiberglass ladders. Which of these two is better for a particular use?

Aluminum Ladders

Aluminum ladders are lighter and easier to maneuver, and are durable over years of use. They won’t rust, making them suitable for use on outdoor construction sites. They are an excellent choice as long as there are no electrical sources in your work area. If there are electrical sources, a metal ladder should not be used. While aluminum does not attract lightning, it does conduct electricity extremely well and could result in a nasty – or even fatal – electrical shock. Some jobsites won’t allow aluminum ladders due to the possibility of electrical shock or electrocution.

Fiberglass Ladders

Fiberglass ladders seem to be even more durable and longer lasting than aluminum ladders due to superior wear resistance. Fiberglass ladders cost more than aluminum but they are worth it. They are the safest ladder to use in roofing and all other applications. Fiberglass ladders need to be used at all times when working around electricity to reduce the possibility of electric shock. They do not conduct electricity, making them a safer choice when working around electricity and electrical lines.

General Ladder Safety

Ladders are tools. Many of the basic safety rules that apply to most tools also apply to the safe use of a ladder: 1.

A ladder needs to extend three feet above the roof deck, surface or walking/working surface and the ladder must be secured at all times

2. Never climb on the rungs of the ladder above the 26


surface of the roof or grab ahold of the ladder rungs above the roof while climbing off of or onto the roof. This will cause the base of the ladder to kick out from the building 3. If you feel tired or dizzy, or are prone to losing your balance, stay off the ladder to prevent hurting yourself or others 4. Do not use ladders in high winds or storms 5. Wear clean, slip-resistant shoes. Shoes with leather soles are not appropriate for ladder use since they are not sufficiently slip-resistant 6. Before using a ladder, inspect it to confirm that it is in good working condition (see Table 1) 7. Ladders with loose or missing parts must be rejected. Rickety ladders that sway or lean to the side must be rejected. Ladders with missing ropes and pulleys must also be rejected to prevent injuries or near misses (see Table 4)

Table 1: Ladder Height

Ladder Height (ft)

Building Height (ft)















60 (3 section)