Top Tips for Ladder Safety at Your Job Sites

Top Tips for Ladder Safety at Your Job Sites

An estimated 40 percent of construction site deaths are due to falls, and of those, about 1 in 4 are falls from ladders. Almost 100 construction workers die annually because of falls from a ladder. Then, there are of course countless more nonfatal injuries sustained from ladder falls. It’s not surprising, given that ladder safety issues are, year after year, the third most-cited OSHA violation.

Ladder safety is an important but often overlooked topic when it comes to worker safety at your job sites. These climbing aids are found at just about every construction zone and they’re used all the time, by many people.

Ladder Safety Tips

Here are some of the essentials for safeguarding your workforce with smart ladder use and policies:

  • All workers must be trained by a qualified, competent professional in ladder safety
  • Training should include recognizing and remedying potential dangers, proper use and placement, maximum load capacities, and fall protection systems
  • Inspect ladders before use for damage or defects
  • Take ladders out of use if there’s cause for concern and clearly mark them as damaged until they are repaired or disposed of
  • Read the instructions and safety precautions provided by the manufacturer
  • Choose the right ladder design for the nature of the work and the site where it’s placed
  • Pay attention to maximum load capacities, and don’t forget to take into account the weight of tools being taken up the ladder
  • Position and move ladders as needed so workers do not have to stretch, lean, or otherwise over-extend themselves and risk tipping or falling
  • Completely dismount a ladder to move it; never try to reposition a ladder by jumping, shuffling, or attempting to “walk” it while on it
  • When on a ladder, workers should keep their weight centered between the side rails and their feet pointing forward; don’t stand sideways on a ladder or facing away from it (while climbing or working)
  • The base of a ladder should come out 1 foot from its support structure for every 4 feet of working length
  • Ladders should extend at least 3 feet above the landing surface of an upper level being accessed
  • Never prop a ladder up by placing something under it to reach higher; never stand on something placed on a ladder rung for this purpose either
  • Ensure secure placement before climbing, and only use ladders on a level, stable surface
  • Secure the top and bottom of the ladder whenever possible
  • Confirm that rungs and spreaders are fully locked when applicable before climbing the ladder
  • Use ladders made of non-conductive material when electrical hazards are present
  • Workers should have three of four limbs in direct contact with the ladder at all times when climbing up or down
  • Don’t stand or sit on the top rung or step unless the instructions explicitly say the ladder is designed for such use (and most aren’t)
  • Nobody should carry tools in hand while climbing a ladder; use tool belts or hoists once the worker is safely in position
  • Never leave tools or other items on a rung; it’s a tripping hazard, and items can fall and injure people below
  • Anyone working on a ladder should wear shoes or boots with non-slip soles
  • Don’t climb a ladder with rungs coated in snow, ice, mud, or wet leaves; clear the rungs thoroughly before use
  • Never attempt a greater reach by tying ladders together
  • Ladders should not be used as walkways, platforms, or for anything other than their intended purposes

Find more safety and regulatory information about ladders here on OSHA’s website.

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