Each year, more than 500,000 people are treated in emergency rooms, walk-in clinics, doctors’ offices, and other related medical settings resulting from a failure to follow basic safe work practices when using ladders. OSHA estimates that, on average, approximately 202,066 serious (lost workday) injuries and 345 fatalities occur annually. With March being National Ladder Safety Month, it's the perfect time to inspect your ladders, review your current ladder safety procedures and make any necessary improvements for best practices.
Beacon’s safety consultants are out in the field every day helping workers stay safe on the job site. Some of the most common and serious incidents we try to prevent are related to falls from ladders. Ladder incidents often occur when choosing the wrong type of ladder, using a worn or damaged ladder, using a ladder improperly, and placing a ladder incorrectly. Below is just one example.
“Jim” was tasked with fixing a light bulb in the office ceiling. He quickly grabbed a ladder and climbed up to reach the bulb. As he was reaching, the ladder suddenly shifted causing Jim to lose his balance and fall to the ground. Jim had not opened the spreaders all the way.
Jim suffered serious injuries from the fall and was unable to work for several weeks while he recovered. His coworkers were worried about him and the incident made them realize how important basic ladder safety is in the workplace.
After the incident, Jim's employer took steps to prevent similar occurrences by providing ladder safety training to all employees and making sure that all ladders are inspected regularly and in good condition before use.
According to David Blair, the VP of Loss Prevention & Claims at Beacon Mutual Insurance, "While using a ladder seems routine, one should be mindful of a few basic safety guidelines" By implementing these best practices and training employees on ladder safety, you can help prevent ladder-related injuries and ensure a safe and productive workplace for your employees.
To help protect your employees from ladder-related injuries, here are eight best practices for ladder safety in the workplace:
- Choose the right ladder for the job. Make sure the ladder you use is the correct size and weight capacity for the task at hand.
- Inspect your ladder before use. Check for any damage or defects that could compromise its safety.
- Position the ladder correctly. Place the ladder on a level surface and use the 4-to-1 rule: for every 4 feet of ladder height, the base should be 1 foot away from the wall or structure.
- Maintain three points of contact. Keep two feet and one hand, or one foot and two hands, on the ladder at all times.
- Never stand on the top rung of the ladder. This is not a safe position, and it can cause the ladder to tip over.
- Use a tool belt instead of carrying tools while on the ladder. This reduces the risk of losing your balance and falling.
- Avoid using the ladder in adverse weather conditions. Rain, snow, and wind can make the ladder slippery and unstable.
- Train employees on ladder safety. Make sure everyone in the workplace knows how to use ladders safely and follows best practices.
During Ladder Safety Month, take the time to inspect your ladders and review your workplace's ladder safety policies and procedures. A few simple precautions can go a long way in protecting your employees and your business. Stay safe, Beacon policyholders!
For more information, visit:
- The Beacon Safety Library to download our Safety Alerts: Accident Investigation, Ladder Safety, and Ladder Selection.
- The American Ladder Institute website