Ladder Safety – Do’s, Don’ts and Other Tips

This article may help prevent injuries and accidents. Please keep these tips in mind when using a ladder.

Myra Piper, CIC

As with any equipment, there are safety rules when it comes to ladder use. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, accidents involving ladders cause an estimated 300 deaths and more than 164,000 injuries requiring emergency medical attention each year in the U.S.

Ladder accidents are normally caused by improper selection, care or use, not necessarily by manufacturing defects. Some of the more common hazards involving ladders, such as instability, electrical shock and falls, can often be prevented. Being conscious of ladder safety is a simple way to prevent workplace accidents and keep workers safe on the job.

Ladder Selection — Weight Limits
Be sure to review weight limits keeping in mind that they include your weight as well as any equipment you are carrying:

  • I-A (heavy duty) holds 300 pounds
  • I (heavy duty) holds up to 250 pounds
  • II (medium duty) holds 225 pounds
  • III (light) holds 200 pounds (generally utilized for home-use)

Most Important Ladder Do’s

  • Use the ladder for its intended purpose only.
  • Only allow one person on a ladder at a time.
  • Always check the ladder’s condition before use and engage all locks on extension ladders.
  • Keep both feet and one hand on the ladder at all times.
  • Be sure you use the proper ladder for the job.
  • Make sure your shoes are clean and free of dirt, oil or other debris that could cause them to lose their grip.
  • Always walk forward up a ladder.
  • If a ladder has any defects, tag it and remove it from service immediately.
  • Always maintain three points of contact on a ladder — two feet and a hand, or two hands and one foot, when climbing up or down.

Ladder Don’ts – What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

  • Don’t use an aluminum ladder around live electrical wires.
  • Don’t use a ladder in standing water or swimming pools when working with electrical tools.
  • Don’t climb a ladder if you are dizzy or out of breath.
  • Don’t place a ladder on uneven or unstable surfaces.
  • Don’t place a ladder on top of boxes, bricks or pallets to get more height.
  • Don’t use a ladder in strong winds or outside during a lightning storm (especially an aluminum ladder).
  • Don’t try to carry extremely heavy or awkwardly large items up a ladder.
  • Don’t stand or sit on the top step of a ladder.
  • Don’t lean out by one hand when using a ladder.
  • Don’t make scaffolding out of ladders.
  • Don’t lean or stand a ladder in front of a door that opens toward you. Always lock, block or guard doors around where you’re working.
  • Don’t set loose tools or equipment on top of a ladder — they could fall off and injure someone below.
  • Don’t work for more than 15 to 30 minutes in a single position when on a ladder.
  • Don’t use a ladder that has broken or splintered rungs.
  • Don’t use a ladder that can’t hold your weight combined with the weight of materials you are using.
  • Don’t leave a raised ladder unattended.

Want to know more?
Accident Fund is committed to providing our policyholders unrivaled loss-control services and online safety materials, including:

  • Safety-training modules accessible 24/7 for policyholders’ employees
  • Loss-control booklets and other printed materials available to print and order from our website
  • Low-cost safety-training videos from our online library
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