Reach for the Right Ladder

05.10.2022
HR & Safety

More than 80% of fall injuries in the construction industry that have taken place since 2012 are traced back to ladder incidents. 

OSHA found more than 2,000 ladder violations in the 2021 fiscal year alone. 

OSHA deputy regional administrator Jeffrey Erskine said ladder violations in Connecticut have been frequent in the past two years as well.

Other top violations in Connecticut include falls, electrical hazards, and respirator citations.

“I know it seems kind of remedial, but a lot of people don’t use [ladders] correctly,” Erskine said at CBIA’s 2022 Safety and Health Conference. 

“They put them up, they use the wrong size ladder, they don’t secure them and down they go.”

Officials with OSHA said there are a number of things to remember when using ladders in the workplace. 

Choose the Right Ladder

Ensuring the ladder is the right height should be step one. A ladder that is too short can lead to overreaching and ladder instability. 

It is also important to consider the ladder material. 

A ladder made of nonconductive material can avoid electrocution and related falls.

Workers and employers should pay attention to the duty rating when selecting a ladder.  

Duty rating is the maximum amount of weight the ladder is manufactured to safely carry. 

It means that the ladder is strong enough to handle your weight and your equipment. 

If the ladder has an insufficient duty rating, it can structurally fail.

Inspect for Damage

When you bring a ladder out for the first time, you should look for missing rungs, bolts, cleats, screws, loose components, or other defects. 

If you find defects, immediately mark the ladder as defective. Tag it with a “Do Not Use” sign or something similar. 

A ladder should always be on a level, supportive surface without contaminants. 

Place the ladder in a low traffic area or put barriers around it to prevent a person or equipment from bumping into the ladder.

A ladder sliding out at the base due to incorrect setup angles account for approximately 40% of cases. 

Three Points of Contact

Activities such as overreaching, carrying objects, applying excessive force, slips, and missteps are frequent causes of ladder-related fall injuries.

Once on the ladder, never step above the second highest step on a step ladder or the fourth highest rung on an extension ladder.

Small companies account for up to 80% of all construction companies, but employees there do not typically receive the required training for safe use of extension ladders and step ladders.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health created a ladder safety app to help prevent extension and step ladder-related falls. 

The app has a multimodal indicator, which uses visual and sound signals to help someone position an extension ladder at an optimal angle.

It also offers reference materials, safety guidelines, and checklists. 

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