Todd Jerome Jenkins, MS, CSP, SMS, CHST, STSC

Safety Aficionado & Ph.D. Student

Ladder Safety

Ladders are standard in many workplaces but pose a significant risk if not used safely. Falls from ladders can result in serious injuries or even death. It is crucial to follow ladder safety guidelines to prevent these incidents.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), falls from ladders account for many workplace injuries and fatalities. In fact, in 2019, falls from ladders caused 147 fatalities and 11,820 nonfatal injuries involving days away from work in the United States.

To prevent ladder-related injuries and fatalities, following safety guidelines outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is essential.

Firstly, it is crucial to select the right ladder for the job. Consider factors such as the maximum weight capacity, length, and material of the ladder. Use the appropriate ladder for the task and ensure it is in good condition.

Before using a ladder, inspect it for any defects or damage, such as cracks, rust, or missing parts. Do not use a damaged ladder; report any issues to a supervisor or safety manager.

When setting up the ladder, ensure it is placed on a stable and level surface. If using an extension ladder, ensure it is secured at the top and bottom to prevent it from sliding or tipping over.

Maintaining three points of control when using the ladder is essential – either two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. Do not overreach, and keep your weight between the ladder’s rails.

Finally, ensure that the ladder is used safely by everyone. Provide adequate training and instruction on ladder safety and encourage people to report any safety concerns or issues.

In the past, OSHA has issued citations to employers for not following ladder safety guidelines. Employers can face penalties for not providing adequate ladder training or failing to ensure that ladders are used safely.

In summary, ladder safety is crucial in preventing workplace injuries and fatalities. By following OSHA and NIOSH guidelines, selecting the right ladder for the job, inspecting it for damage, using it safely, and providing training, organizations can prevent ladder-related incidents and keep their people safe.

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