An NIOSH research team recently found that 43 percent of fatal falls in the U.S. involve a ladder. Among accidents that occur in the workplace, about 20 percent of fall injuries also involve ladders. Thankfully, most injuries caused by ladder falls can be prevented when the correct safety precautions are taken into account. Researchers urge employers, safety experts, and healthcare professionals to work together to ensure ladder safety training is available to individuals on and off the job. Here are a few simple steps that can help your employees avoid scary and disabling falls:
- Create a strategy to complete the majority of your work on the ground, avoiding the use of ladders whenever applicable.
- Provide workers with alternatives to ladders, such as aerial lifts or supported scaffolds.
- Ensure that all of your ladders are thoroughly inspected, have appropriate safety accessories, and are well matched to the particular worker’s weight, task, and environment
- Provide on-the-job ladder safety training and information
Here’s what your employees should do to be safe when working on ladders:
- Maintain 3-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) when climbing or descending on a ladder
- Face the ladder when climbing up or descending
- Keep your body inside the side rails
- Use extra care when getting on or off the ladder at the top or bottom. Avoid tipping the ladder over sideways or causing the ladder base to slide out
- Carry tools in a tool belt or raise tools up using a hand line. Never carry tools in your hands while climbing up or down a ladder
- Extend the top of the ladder three feet above the landing
- Keep ladders free of any slippery materials