Stepladders, platform ladders, and extension ladders – ladders are such a common tool that it’s easy to forget there are many risks involved when using them. The estimated annual cost of ladder incidents in the United States, which includes liability, pain and suffering, medical, and legal expenses, amounts to 24 billion dollars. Each year, more than 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries, and about 300 of those injuries result in death. OSHA estimates that falls from ladders account for 20 percent of all fatal and lost workday injuries.
However, many of these incidents are preventable if businesses and their employees adhere to ladder safety standards. Additionally, if you make ladders available for employee use and your business is covered by federal or state OSHA, you must adhere to OSHA safety standards and provide the right training to employees.
General ladder safety recommendations:
- Choose the right ladder for the type of job you want to do. Make sure the ladder extends three feet above the point you’ll be offloading.
- Before you set up the ladder, make sure the rungs are secured and free of slippery materials. Replace defective or broken ladders. Follow any manufacturer’s instructions for specific safety usage tips.
- When using an extension ladder, place the ladder in the right location before you start to climb. Make sure the tops of both rails make firm contact with the wall and that both legs are placed firmly on the ground. Never place a ladder on top of other objects, such as chairs, boxes, or bins. Set the base of the ladder one foot from the wall for every three feet of ladder height.
- Keep three limbs in contact with the ladder at all times, whether that’s two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot.
- Always have a spotter standing by who can help you hold the ladder so it doesn’t shift and endanger you. However, there should never be two people on the same ladder at the same time.
- Never move a ladder if a person or equipment is on the ladder.
- Never stand on the top cap of the ladder because this can cause you to fall backward.
- Always look for and avoid electrical hazards. Look around for overhead power lines or exposed electrical equipment.
Though these are basic guidelines you should follow, always be sure to refer to OSHA’s safety regulations for ladders. Ladder safety is a risk that businesses need to be able to navigate in the workplace to decrease the probability of worker injuries while on the job.
Connect with an Advisor to ensure you’ve taken sufficient measures to implement ladder safety in your workplace and that it aligns with your overall risk mitigation strategy.