Ladders are Handy Tools, if You Follow the Safety Rules

02 September 2020

Going over ladder safety may seem mundane when construction workers regularly work at terrifying heights, but ladder fall injuries cost $24 billion annually in the United States, with falls accounting for more than a quarter of nonfatal and 16 percent of fatal workplace injuries (source NIOSH).

While ladders are a common and necessary tool in construction, they are often misused. Misuse is usually caused by poor planning resulting in not having the correct ladder on the job. The ladder is either not tall enough or the wrong type of ladder for the job being done.

Often a worker will use a stepladder unopened leaning it against a wall so the worker can get into an area that is not accessible if the ladder is open. Never use a stepladder, unless the legs are fully open and the spreader is locked.

  1. Do not step on the top cap or the step below the cap on a stepladder.

2. Do not step on the bucket shelf.

When it comes to straight ladders, do not stand on the top 3 rungs. When a worker needs to stand on one of these top 3 rungs, it indicates that a longer ladder is needed. If the work had been planned properly the correct ladder would be available. Some other safety rules to follow when using ladders are:

  1. Always erect ladder on a surface that is even, level and firm.

2. Never place it in front of a door—unless the door is locked, blocked, or guarded.

3. Face the ladder when climbing and descending. Keep a 3-point contact—always have 2 hands and one foot or one hand and 2 feet in contact with the ladder at all times. This means that tools cannot be carried in hands. Tools must be carried in pockets, tool belt or raised or lowered by rope.

4. Keep belt bucket between side rails. Do not lean to the side. Get down and move the ladder.

5. Do not use a metal ladder around electric wires.

6. Do not use in high winds.

7. Do not leave a raised ladder unattended.

Most ladder injuries are preventable. Follow established ladder safety rules and work safely.