Vol. 1 No.3


- Ladder Matters: A Safety Review
- The Bricklayer's Accident Report
- Coming Events
- Cool Products
- Your February 2006 Electrical Business


Ladders are involved in about two per cent of all occupational accidents in industrialized countries. The cause of most falls is usually one of the following:
- Wrong ladder used.
- Ladder failed because it was in bad shape, or the surface failed to support it.
- Ladder was misused.

New ladders are approved by the Canadian Standards Association and rated for the load they can support. A ladder must be selected carefully, used properly and maintained. Still, they do not last forever, so be on the lookout for weakened or twisted frames, loose rungs or hardware, and worn out anti-slip shoes.

For starters, use the right equipment
Straight and extension ladders are to be used against a wall, and are intended for outdoor work. The wrong setup is the single largest source of accidents with these units. Place the ladder on clear level ground that's free of ice, snow, water and sand, at a 75° to 80° angle. Do not climb above the fourth rung from the top of an extension ladder: if it is used to access a flat roof, for example, it should rise about three feet past that surface.

When it comes to stepladders, the spreader arms must be locked in the open position with all four legs balanced and stable. Stay off the top two rungs of the ladder, and use your knees to balance yourself by resting them against the ladder. Never stand on top of the ladder or (heaven forbid!) the paint shelf. If you need a straight ladder, go get one: don't try to make a closed stepladder do the job.

Good grip is key
After selecting the right ladder for the job at hand and ensuring it is set up correctly, the next thing to keep in mind is proper usage. Always have three-point contact with the ladder (i.e. two [well-shod] feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot). When climbing, face the ladder and hold on to the rungs, not the side rails: you'll have a better grasp should you slip.

Accidents usually happen while carrying materials up a ladder so, wherever possible, use a hoist rope or work belt to transport them (see "The Bricklayer's Accident Report"). Also, stay centred: another big cause of falls is loss of balance caused by reaching out. Keep your weight in the middle of the frame; your belt buckle should not go beyond the side rails.

Although ladders are seemingly simple pieces of equipment, their misuse can result in serious injury. Take your time and exercise caution.

- With files from: The Health and Safety Report, CCOHS (3, 11).


In Ladder Matters, we suggest the use of a hoist for moving materials rather than carrying them up and down via ladder. However, that process, too, is not without risk. Just check out the following accident report filed by a bricklayer with New Zealand's workers' compensation board. (An oldie but a goodie, this is supposedly a true story. If not, well...)

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to your request for "additional information" as per Block 3 of the Accident Report Form.

I put "Poor Planning" as the cause of my accident and you have asked for a fuller account: I trust the following will explain.

I am a bricklayer by trade and on the day of the accident I was working alone on the roof of a new six-storey building.

When I had completed my work I found that I had some bricks left over, which, when weighed later, were found to be slightly in excess of 500 lb.

Rather than carry the bricks down by hand a few at a time I decided to lower them in the barrel by using a pulley, which was attached to the side of the building. After securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the bricks. You will note in Block 11 of the Accident Report Form that I weigh 135 lb.

Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded up the side of the building at a rapid rate. In the vicinity of the third floor I met the barrel, which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed.

This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and broken collarbone as listed in Section 3 of the Accident Report Form. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley.

Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel hit the ground and the bottom fell out of it. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approx. 50 lb. I refer you once again to my weight.

As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the 3rd floor I once again met the barrel, this time coming up, hence the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and severe lacerations of my legs and lower body.

Here, my luck began to change slightly.

The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and, fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked.

I'm sorry to report, however, that as I lay on the pile of bricks-in pain and unable to move-I lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope. As I lay there I watched the empty barrel begin its downward journey onto me. This explains the two broken legs.

I trust this answers your query.


Canadian Electrical Code Essentials
Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
January 16-17, Winnipeg
January 19-20, Calgary
January 23-24, Vancouver
January 30-31, Ft. McMurray, Alta.
February 2-3, Regina
February 9-10, Ottawa
February 13-14, St. John's
February 16-17, Halifax
February 20-21, Mississauga, Ont.
February 27-28, Edmonton
March 2-3, Yellowknife
March 6-7, Whitehorse
March 27-28, Moncton, N.B.
March 30-31, Corner Brook, N.L.
April 6-7, Niagara Falls, Ont.
April 12-13, Mississauga, Ont.
April 18-19, Vancouver
May 8-9, London, Ont.
May 25-26, Montreal (English)
June 12-13, Red Deer, Alta.
June 26-27, Sudbury, Ont.

Pool Tournament
BCEA (British Columbia Electrical Association)
February 2

Annual Technical Conference
EIAA (Electrical Inspectors Association of Alberta)
February 3-4
Sherwood Park, Alta.

Annual Convention
ECAA (Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta)
February 8-18

Valentine Dinner and Dance
OEL (Ontario Electrical League)
February 10
Toronto, Ont.


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Be sure to watch your mailbox for the February 2006 issue of Electrical Business. This busy issue will tell you about designing an effective PPE program and how to understand and exploit the National Master Specification. It will also discuss the LEED™ Green Building Rating System, a voluntary, consensus-based standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings that's sweeping North America.

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