by Leeca Baran, ATC & Casee Yarborough, ATC

It’s Workplace Safety Month and we’re putting all eyes on environments that see the most risk for workplace injury. To start, we’re eyeing ladders. They’re always up to something. Let’s keep you PREPARED with ladder safety – one step at a time!

First Things First

Prior to using your ladder, (E) Evaluate Your Equipment and (R) Review Your Hazards.

– Do you see grease or spills on your ladder? Clean them up prior to starting your work tasks.

– Is the ladder functional and safe to use? Use a ladder that is not damaged and is stable to support you during your work task.

The Right Ladder

Choose the right ladder for the job:

– Consider the height of the job task and the height of the ladder. The right ladder height allows you to (R) Remain in the Green Zone for your entire task, protecting your back and shoulders by keeping your work close to your body and below head height.

– Additionally, the right height ladder will prevent you from standing too high up on the ladder. DO NOT stand on the top step or ladder cap, because there isn’t enough structure to support and stabilize you.

– Make sure to keep the ladder square to your work so you can also (A) Align Your Shoulders, Hips, and Toes to the job and prevent twisting movements. Always keep the ladder on a stable and even surface to avoid wobbling!

Step Up Your Fitness

Work on a ladder all day? Feel like you’ve got the safety part covered? Don’t step down and away just yet. Ladder work is fatiguing and can cause delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Along with your (P) Pre-Shift Warm Up stretches, take a few micro range of motion (ROM) breaks throughout the day to help reduce fatigue and DOMS! While you’re on the ladder, brace and activate your core muscles. This helps reduce fatigue and stress on your lower back and stabilizes you, reducing your chance of falling.

Calf raises, shoulder rolls, shoulder blade squeezes, chin tucks, wrist circles, and finger to thumbs are a few micro-stretches you can do while on a ladder to break up the job tasks briefly without disrupting your production. If you are looking for more specific micro-stretch breaks for any of your job tasks ask your Injury Prevention Specialist.

Ladder Microstretches

Once you’re safely down the ladder, try these additional stretches to help increase circulation and blood flow, giving nutrients to muscles that work hard during ladder use.

Try: lunges with a twist, neck rolls, walking with high knees, walking butt kicks, calf raises, and arm circles.

Leeca Baran, MS, LAT, ATC || Leeca has worked as an Injury Prevention Specialist and Athletic Trainer with Work Right NW since 2019. Currently she works in Memphis, TN, but was born and raised in the Coal Region of Pennsylvania. She graduated with a  Masters of Science degree in Athletic Training from Seton Hall University. When Leeca isn’t picking up PRN sports medicine opportunities you can find her enjoying walks with her dog Gizmo, cuddling with her cat Onyx (and of course Gizmo), or trying a new recipe in the kitchen. 

Casee Yarborough, LAT, ATC, CSCS || Casee is a Certified Athletic Trainer with a degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University. A native Floridian, she worked as an athletic trainer at a high school for two years before switching to the industrial setting. Outside of work she enjoys fitness, sports, and traveling.

Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips for the industrial athlete from Work Right NW!