Don’t overlook the importance of ladder safety

By Samie Gossfeld, Verona Safety

March is National Ladder Safety Month, a national program dedicated exclusively to promoting ladder safety at home and work, created by the American Ladder Institute in 2017. This is a great time to review your ladder safety procedures.

How important is ladder safety?  Ladder violations ranked #3 on OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards in 2023, with 2,978 violations. In addition to violations, on average, there are more than 300 fatalities every year due to ladder-related accidents. In construction alone there are on average more than 5,000 ladder-related injuries treated every year. 

Ladder Safety Month is meant to decrease the occurrence of ladder-related injuries and fatalities, by increasing safety awareness and ladder safety training.  Most ladder-related injuries are preventable – if you think before you climb. Here are some tips to remember.

Worker carrying a piece of sheet metal up the ladder.
It’s always best to use a line rather than carrying material up the ladder.

Make sure you choose the proper ladder and check before you climb.  Consider your work environment, the work surface, ladder length, and amount of weight the ladder is meant to support. Check the ladder’s feet and surface you place it on. It should be level and should never be unstable. Remember to be mindful of electrical hazards as well. Wear proper footwear for a secure grip and take the time to make sure your footwear is clear of slippery substances like mud or grease. Remember to keep your feet and hands in a safe position.

Inspect the ladder itself and make sure it is in good condition. Checklists are available to help you properly inspect all types of ladders. Check labels and don’t exceed maximum load ratings. Make sure you are using the proper style of ladder for your application.

When beginning your climb, remember to keep your feet and hands in a safe position. Always face the ladder and stay upright, never lean beyond the rails. If you feel the need to reach, adjust your ladder’s position. Do not move the ladder while someone is on it.  Don’t stand above the second step from the top of a stepladder or the fourth rung from the top of an extension ladder. Don’t climb on the back of a step ladder, and don’t stand or sit on the top shelf or pail shelf. Don’t permit more than one person on a single-sided stepladder or an extension ladder.

While climbing a ladder, move one step at a time and firmly set one foot before moving the other. Never climb a closed ladder unless it is a designed safety feature (such as a lean-safe ladder). If you need to haul material, it’s always best to use a line rather than carrying up the ladder.

Remember that falls from portable ladders (step, straight, extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries. Take the time to train your workers and keep it a point of emphasis.


Werner Ladder assisted with the content of this blog post.

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