If your organization uses fiberglass extension ladders this is an alert for you. Pictures of the damage that nearly cause serious injury are posted along with suggestions for inspecting your fiberglass extension ladders.
This story is reprinted from www.safetytopics.com
Significant Near Miss Involving a Fiberglass Extension Ladder
Two roofing technicians were going on to a flat roof to perform an inspection and repair. The first technician set up a 30 foot extension ladder to access the roof. The ladder was a Type IA Fiberglass ladder, rated for a load capacity up to 300 pounds. The technician using the ladder weighed approx. 160 pounds. The ladder had been inspected and was less than two months old and had not been damaged or subjected to any harsh conditions.
As the technician was climbing the ladder he felt it start to give from underneath him. He was able to reach and hold on to the roof edge as the ladder collapsed. The second technician was able to get another ladder from their service truck, and get the first technician down safely without incident.
All fiberglass ladders were immediately brought in from the field and closely examined for defects or damage. The company found that on approx. 20% of their fiberglass extension ladders there were very small cracks in the fiberglass on the siderails immediately next to the runs of some ladders. In addition to the small cracks in the fiberglass, in some areas the fiberglass material had split.
The small cracks found in the siderails of the extension ladders were not noted to be in any pattern along the siderail. The cracks and splits in the fiberglass were found to be immediately next to the runs on the outside portion of the siderail.
Currently it is believed the fiberglass may have been damaged or fatigued during the manufacturing process when the rungs were crimped into the siderail of the ladder.
The small cracks around the rungs are not easily detected by a quick visual inspection. Works need to “feel” with their fingertips for any raised spots in the fiberglass and remove any debris along the side rails in the areas where the runs are crimped to check for small cracks or splits.
The cracks were not found in any pattern or specific location on all the ladders inspected. It is importan to inspect each rung on both the exterior and interior side of the siderail for any signs of cracks or splits in the fiberglass.
Any fiberglass ladder with these small cracks should be removed from service.