Do you use ladders at home or at work? If so, have you been trained how to use them properly and safely? It may sound like a silly question, but ladders are involved in many fall incidents. In fact, falls are a leading cause of death in construction.

Each year, more than 300 construction workers are killed and more than 10,000 seriously injured by falls from heights. Of these, 104 deaths were falls from ladders and 57% of deaths from ladders occur in the construction industry. (Sources for statistics below.)

If your business is covered by OSHA, you’re required to adhere to ladder training and safety standards. These standards give you safe practices to help you protect your employees.

Ladder Safety Tips

Employers, train all employees on the ladder standards that pertain to your business.

  • As with any tool, you should read all labels and markings before using a ladder. Set up and use your ladder according to the manufacturer’s label. Only use ladders and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers, jacks or hooks) for their designed purposes.
  • Know how to choose the right style, height, material, and performance rating of the ladder required for the job.
  • Inspect ladders before initial use and before each work shift; remove damaged or defective ladders from service until repaired or discarded.
  • Avoid hazards, especially electrical hazards, and misuse. Do NOT use a metal ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment.
  • Always maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder while climbing.
  • Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface unless it has been secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement. Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.
  • An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support. Do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
  • A ladder placed in any location where it can be displaced by other work activities must be secured to prevent displacement or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder.
  • Be aware of the ladders’ maximum load rating and do not exceed it. Be aware of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment.
  • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
  • Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.

Resources for You

Falls – Ladder Safety
OSHA Quick Card – Portable Ladder Safety
Reducing Falls in Construction – Safe Use of Stepladders
American Ladder Institute, find basic ladder safety and more
Ladder Safety Training Videos

• US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Injuries/Illnesses and Fatal Injuries Profiles-Case and Demographic Numbers. Date accessed: November 14, 2018.
• US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Injuries/Illnesses and Fatal Injuries Profiles-Fatal Injuries Numbers. Date accessed: April 6, 2018.

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