Online ladder safety game geared to young and new workers

WorkSafe BC’s Ladder Challenge shows correct procedure for using a ladder to safely reach the roof

Safety may not be a game, but British Columbia’s workers’ compensation board is getting the message out to young and new workers about the hazards of ladders at a residential construction worksite with a new online game.

The objective of the game (available at is to identify the correct order of procedures for using a ladder to reach the roof of a house safely. It reinforces ladder safety basics and practices, which may help prevent serious injury at work.

To entice B.C. residents aged 13 and older to play the game, WorkSafe BC is giving away an Apple iPad. (The contest closes Aug. 31, 2010.) And the game is certainly getting attention with more than 10,000 entries received so far.

Dave Blais, WorkSafeBC senior manager of e-business, says the success of the ladder challenge has exceeded their expectations.

“While the game is targeted primarily at young workers that may be new to working in housing construction, it also appeals to a broader general audience as well.”

Falls a leading cause of injury for young workers

For young workers aged 15 to 24, falls are one of the leading causes of serious injury. Working at elevated levels including from a ladder, can result in minor sprains, strains and tears, multiple fractures — even death.

Between 2004 and 2008, WorkSafeBC recorded 1,706 young worker claims for compensation related to falls from elevation. Sixteen per cent of all time-loss claims among young construction workers were falls — from ladders and other elevations.

Adrian Johnston, human resources manager at Orca Seafood in Richmond, B.C., saw the game on the WorkSafeBC website and passed it on to his 22-year-old daughter, Yada, who entered the contest and won an iPad in an early-bird contest draw.

“When I was younger I was a roofer, and working with some real tough, older guys I didn’t want to ask how to set up a ladder or anything like that,” says Johnston. “I can see games like this doing a lot of good for young workers.”

Trudi Rondou, manager of the Young and New Worker Program that worked closely with e-business on the initiative, says if people like playing the game, they’re more likely to learn from it.

“We want to engage youth in something that’s fun, but we also want to raise awareness about workplace safety,” she says. “Simply by playing the game, those messages are reaching thousands of young workers.”

Helping to deliver the safety message is London Drugs Limited, which distributed Ladder Challenge postcards and posters to its 48 retail stores, its head office, and affiliates across B.C.

“We encouraged staff to log on from home, either on their own or with their kids,” Laurie Lowes says. “For some, it was an introduction to WorkSafeBC regulations and how they are designed to keep them safe. For others, it was a good reminder not only about safe use of ladders at work, but at home as well.”

Using the game at work

For suggestions on how to use the game to help raise awareness of ladder safety at work, in the classroom, or on the job site, visit the Educators and Trainers section of the site at Links to videos, bulletins, and guides related to ladder safety can also be found in the Resources section of the game site.

Steps to ladder safety

•Don’t use a ladder that has loose, broken, or missing rungs, split, or bent side rails, or other defects.

•Set up your ladder on a firm, level foundation and rest the top of the ladder against a firm structure.

•Make sure the ladder extends about 1 metre (3 feet) above a safe landing or parapet wall.

•Remember this: “For every four feet up, place the ladder one foot out.”

•Secure your ladder to the roof.

•Watch for overhead power lines before uprighting a ladder. Metal, including wire-reinforced wooden ladders, must not be used near energized electrical conductors.

•Maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times.

•Carry tools in a tool belt or raise/lower them with a hand line when you’re on a ladder.

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