Each year, ladder-related injuries cause more than 164,000 emergency room visits, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). While ladders are used frequently on construction sites, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ranked ladder violations number 8 out of the top 10 most frequently cited standards in 2011.
OSHA recommends always inspecting ladders before use and looking for rung and lock damages. Workers should check for oil, grease, wet paint or other substances that could make the ladder slippery. Inspection might also include ensuring proper ladder height, which is a minimum of three feet taller than the working surface, according to the CPSC.
It’s a good idea for businesses to train workers on ladder requirements and use. OSHA states that non-self-supporting ladders that lean against a wall must be positioned in such an angle that the horizontal distance from the top to the foot of the ladder is roughly one-fourth the length of the ladder. Workers should also read all labels for weight-limit information.
Before positioning a ladder, employees should avoid power lines and any other electrical hazards, and place the ladder on a stable, level surface, away from potential ground hazards. After locks and extensions are engaged, OSHA suggests always maintaining three points of hand and foot contact with the ladder and to always face the center of the ladder.
CopperPoint Mutual offers a free online video, “Ladder Safety,” in both English and Spanish, for use in training workers. The video contains quizzes at the end of each chapter.
Businesses might want to enforce a safety policy that requires someone to hold the bottom of the ladder. Employers may want to encourage employees to set up a routine for ladder use that includes communication exchanges between the climber and the helper.