Ladder Hazards

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Is climbing a ladder leaned against a fermenter okay? Some of my cellaring tasks such as CIP, sanitizing, and dry-hopping require me to carry either reactive chemicals or bulk weight quantities of raw material up a ladder so that I can make additions through the top port on the vessel. I feel like the ladder is going to slip out from under me. Do you have any suggestions for elevated work?

The Safety Exchange Says: Pay attention to the feeling you have that the ladder might slip – it just might, and the outcome isn’t pretty. There are several ways around this problem.

You might consider a “rolling ladder.” This is a portable staircase, really, with wheels making it easy to move. Your weight causes the wheels to retract and the ladder will have four solid contact points with the ground.

In larger breweries you might see catwalks with railings or scissor lifts with fall protection cages. In others, CIP is all done from the ground. Dry hopping can be accomplished by pushing a hop/beer mixture into the tank using gas pressure.

Lastly, if you plan to continue to use traditional ladders, you might consider welding “ladder hooks” onto the tank dome. You can rest the ladder on ladder hooks so that it will not slip to one side. Solid grip with the ladder feet may still be required, however.