SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Ladder Safety
Ladders are useful tools, but if you do not follow the
proper safety tips, you could hurt yourself. In fact,
according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission, more than 547,000 people were treated in
hospital emerge006Ecy rooms, doctorsí offices, clinics and other
medical settings in 2007 because of injuries related to ladder
use. Most injuries are cuts, bruises and fractured bones.
Did you know that even a six-foot fall from a ladder can
More often, you might break an arm or leg. When you
fall off a ladder on a construction site, you can land on
almost anything, so internal injuries are common. Falls
from ladders happen because you slip or because the ladder
slips. If youíre in a hurry, thereís more chance of falling.
Take the time to use the right ladder the correct way.
To reduce your chance of injury, follow the safety information
1. More than half of all ladder accidents happen because
the ladder slips. What are some ways to keep a ladder
Place the ladder on a firm, level surface that isnít slippery.
- Use a ladder with safety feet, especially if youíre setting
it on a smooth floor.
- Always secure a portable ladder. Nail it to a permanent
structure, tie it off or block it.
- Make sure the ladderís supports (feet and upper risers)
are free of grease and mud.
- If the ladder is leaning against a smooth surface, have
wall grips on the risers to prevent side slipping.
- Make sure the ladder is leaning against something
secure (not a gutter, window sash, window pane or anything
that can move).
- Donít set a ladder on top of boxes or other movable
- Never use a ladder in high winds.
- Barricade a ladder if itís in an area where it could get
bumped. For example, donít use a ladder in front of a
door that might open, unless there is a barricade or
- Make sure your ladder is at the correct angleónot too
steep and not too horizontal.
2. What is the correct angle for a ladder?
- Set it one foot out for every four feet of ladder length.
3. Nearly a third of all ladder accidents happen because a
person slips. What are some things you can do to keep
yourself from slipping?
Use a ladder with non-skid treads (or a non-skid coating)
on the rungs.
- Make sure the rungs are free of mud, grease and other
- Make sure your shoes are free of mud and grease.
- When youíre on a ladder, donít lean too far outónever
beyond armís length.
4. When going up or down a ladder, always:
- Face the ladder.
- Use both hands.
- Donít try to adjust an extension ladder when youíre
standing on a surface above it.
- Donít stand or work on the top three rungs of a straight
ladder unless youíre using a safety belt. At the top,
thereís nothing to grip.
- Donít step on any rung above a ladderís upper support.
It may cause the bottom of the ladder to kick out.
- Donít stand or work at the top of a stepladder.
- If you use a stepladder, make sure itís fully open and
5. How should you carry tools or materials up or down a
- Use a tool belt to keep your hands free.
- Pull equipment and materials up with a line.
6. To make sure your ladder is in good repair, you should
inspect it before and after each job. When you inspect
a ladder, what should you look for?
- All rungs are connected securely to the side rails.
- No rungs or side rails are missing, loose, broken,
cracked or corroded.
- No nails, screws or rivets are sheared off or missing.
- There are no splinters.
7. What if a ladder is defective?
- If you ever notice an unsafe ladder, report it right away.
- The employer should remove defective ladders from
service and tag them.
- Some employers destroy defective ladders to make sure
no one uses them.
8. People say to ďuse the right ladder for the job.Ē What
are some things to keep in mind when youíre choosing
- Use a ladder that is safety-approved. Look for a label
showing that it meets American National Standards
Institute (ANSI) safety requirements.
- Use a ladder of the right length. The side rails should
extend at least three feet, but not more than four feet,
above the ladderís upper support.
- Use a ladder thatís strong enough for you and the job.
- Never splice two ladders together.
- Donít let more than one person at a time on a ladder
unless youíre using a ladder thatís specially designed for
- Donít use a metal ladder near live electrical parts or
within six feet of high voltage electrical lines. (Increase
the distance for very high voltage). Remember that electricity
can arc. Portable metal ladders should have a
warning label on them to remind you.
- Donít use a ladder for anything but its intended purpose.
For example, donít use it as a brace or skid. Donít
use it horizontally as a walkway or scaffold.
Need more information on safety in the workplace? As
a reader of our magazine, we will answer any OSHA related
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or call me at 612-801-1032 and say you read this article
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