A person who follows the three points of contact rule can dramatically decrease their chances of falling onto the floor or ground. Falling is a major source of accidents resulting in injury or even death. Significant injury is possible from falling when climbing into a vehicle or piece of equipment or onto a ladder or scaffolding.
What is the three points of contact rule? When climbing up or down, a person needs to keep three of their four limbs in contact with the ground, the step, a handle, or a ladder. If one foot is lifted, the other is securely set on a step, and both hands grasp a handle or ladder. One hand is moved only when both feet are set securely on steps. Two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand, should be in contact with the piece of equipment at all times.
It’s a matter of weight distribution. When three points of contact are maintained, the person’s weight is distributed, and their center of gravity is controlled, making it less likely to lose their balance.
Imagine a triangle drawn between the three points of contact. The center of gravity is maintained in the middle of these three anchor points minimizing any drastic weight shift that throws a person off balance and onto the ground.
Individuals should not carry items when climbing into a vehicle or up a ladder as their hands may not be free to maintain three points of contact. When mounting or dismounting, they must face the vehicle, platform, or ladder.
It’s always necessary to keep steps free of dirt and water, which may make it challenging to maintain a secure hold. Wear slip-resistant footwear and avoid loose clothing that may get in the way when climbing. Make sure hands and shoes are not wet or slippery when climbing.
The League Association of Risk Management (LARM) has designed safety stickers to be placed near the handle of trucks and large pieces of equipment to remind drivers to use the three points of contact rule. LARM members can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the stickers. Posters to be placed in the workplace promoting the three points of contact rule can be printed off here.