How to Carry a Ladder Safely: Global Facilities Leader Teams with PPE Distributor, Ergodyne to Find the Answer
Fed up with injuries and accidents from lifting and transporting ladders, a global facilities technology and solutions company turned to their PPE distributor and Ergodyne looking for a solution. Their ideas, testing and feedback were critical in developing a solution so simple, it’s hard not to ask, “how wasn’t this a thing already?”.
Carrying a ladder is an awkward proposition at best. Dangerous and costly at worst. And it’s a daily reality for thousands of workers at one of the global leaders in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings. The Irish-headquartered multinational provides solutions and services for everything from heating, ventilation and air conditioning to fire suppression, security and much more in buildings big and small—including icons like the Burj Khalifa and the Empire State Building.
It was the company's Fire Protection division in Minnesota that first raised concern over injuries and accidents their technicians were incurring from constantly taking ladders in and out of their vans and transporting them to the job site. The sprinkler installation and inspection crews were seeing plenty of muscle strains, cuts and pinched fingers.
But it didn’t stop there. Unwieldy ladders created a struck-by hazard for co-workers and bystanders, while dings and scratches to vehicles and facility structures weren’t uncommon and came with financial cost.
THE PROBLEM: LACK OF SAFE LADDER TRANSPORT SOLUTIONS
So much of ladder safety—basically all—is focused on safe climbing. Three points of contact. 4:1 rule (check out this blog post for more on that). Staying inside the rails. And considering falls from ladders are one of the leading causes of occupational injury and fatalities, the focus makes sense.
But what about the injuries that result from transporting them? Or damage to the ladders (from dragging them on the ground, for example) eventually leading to dangerous falls from a now faulty piece of equipment?
Guidance on the issue was scarce. Solutions even more so. “There really wasn’t a whole lot—if anything—out there that addressed the problems we had,” said Fire Services Manager Adam W. So, they went to their PPE distributor for help. And they had just the right partner in mind.
THE SOLUTION: ARSENAL LADDER SHOULDER CARRYING STRAP AND CARRYING HANDLE
Ergodyne pioneered the category of workplace ergonomics in the early 1980s with the introduction of the industrial back support and soon thereafter built an entire catalog of solutions aimed at preventing injuries from repetitive motion and heavy lifting.
When the call came for a solution to this ladder carrying conundrum, “Ergodyne was top of mind,” said Travis B., an account manager with the distributor's Safety Sales team. “They’ve always had a reputation for being innovators and eager collaborators. That not only means leading the way in developing a product solution, but also understanding and taking ownership of every aspect of the development process—all the way through navigating the challenges of the supply chain to find a sustainable way forward for us and the customer.”
What Ergodyne and their channel partner ultimately delivered after almost a year of development and testing was the Arsenal 5300 Ladder Shoulder Lifting Strap and Carrying Handle.
“The beauty is, it’s a simple design that does what it needs to do without getting in the way of what the workers need to do,” said Ergodyne Product Manager Matt Hahn. “It’s a self-contained solution with a one-time install… just strap it on and it’s there. No need to remove it to use the ladder.”
The ladder carrying system features a carry handle and a padded shoulder strap option which allows the worker to put most of the weight on the shoulder, helping relieve stress from the arms, hands and back.
“It’s great, because I currently have a torn rotator cuff,” said Steve F., a sprinkler fitter for the company’s Fire Protection division. “This helps me get the ladder out of the van without issue and then sling it over my good shoulder. I use the shoulder strap because I often have long walks to the building with my ladder. It’s been great for that… especially since it keeps both hands free to get in and out of the building.”
The Arsenal 5300 Ladder Shoulder Lifting Strap & Carrying Handle System is designed for easier and safer transport of heavy ladders. This ladder carrier consists of a padded pocket, 3 hook & loop straps and an optional shoulder strap that securely attaches to keep ladders safely closed when carrying.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR INSTALLING PRODUCT ONTO A LADDER
- Install the main pad onto the ladder.
- Find the ladder’s center of gravity by lifting it up and finding the spot on the ladder where it balances side to side.
- Place the middle of the pad on the back rail of the ladder, as close to the center of gravity as possible.
- Wrap the two short straps around the back rail of the ladder, tightly slot the strap through the metal d-ring and fold back onto itself, securing the hook & loop.
- If gussets or any other parts of the ladder frame are in the way, shift the pad slightly up or down to avoid.
- Ensure the grab handle stays on the top of the back rail.
- Ensure the pad hangs down the back side of the ladder.
- Wrap the elastic strap on the back of the pad around a support on the back rail of the ladder and secure the clip on the elastic strap around the white cord.
- Wrap the longer securing strap around both rails of the ladder and secure the hook & loop.
- Install the outer straps and shoulder strap.
- The outer straps can be placed anywhere above and below the pad. Find a spot where the straps will fit securely, away from any features of the ladder.
- Wrap the strap around the back rail of the ladder, tightly slot the strap through the metal d-ring and fold back onto itself, securing the hook & loop. Repeat with the second strap.
- Clip the shoulder strap to the d-rings of the outer straps and adjust as necessary.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR TRANSPORTING A LADDER
- Ensure the ladder is closed and the long strap is secured around both rails of the ladder.
- Lift the ladder using the grab handle and shoulder strap. For smaller/lighter ladders, it may not be necessary to use both the grab handle and shoulder strap asone or the other may suffice.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR WHEN A LADDER IS IN USE
- Remove the long securing strap around both rails of the ladder.
- After opening the ladder, secure the long strap to itself around the back rail of the ladder.
- When the ladder is in use, the system should be secured to the back rail of the ladder.
- If transporting with the shoulder strap, tuck it inside the pad pocket to keep it out of the way when the ladder is in use
LET ERGODYNE SHOULDER THE LOAD
Since 1983, Ergodyne has been sweating the small stuff to help crews work smarter. Give your ladder-lugging crew a much-needed lift with the Arsenal Ladder Shoulder Carrying Strap and Carrying Handle, designed with close worker collaboration to help shoulder the load of heavy, awkward step ladders (and raw materials like lumber).