The Importance of Ladder Safety

Accidents involving ladders are the single major cause of serious workplace accidents. The following are examples of serious injuries that have occurred:

  • A worker moving his extension ladder from one location to another walked his ladder into a power line. He died from electrocution.
  • A worker on a stepladder fell when the floorboard under the ladder gave way and caused the ladder to tumble. The man died from his injuries.
  • A worker on an extension ladder doing gutter work jumped off the ladder when it began sliding. He broke both ankles and will likely never walk without a cane.

In most claims involving ladders, the accident was preventable if certain generally accepted ladder safety rules had been followed. Because most ladder claims involve a fall, nearly all accidents result in very serious injuries, including fractures and paralysis. These are very expensive claims involving significant time in the emergency room and in an intensive care unit. The cost of these claims can significantly impact the cost of insurance. Therefore, it is very important that the policyholder report accidents to LCI promptly (day of, if possible) to reduce cost of the claim and get the employee back to work sooner. But fortunately workers’ comp is one of the few types of insurance where the actions of the policyholder can reduce their exposure to losses. To use a ladder safely involves preparation before an individual even ascends the ladder.

10 Keys to Ladder Safety:

  1. Most accidents are caused by faulty ladder set up. Ladders should only be set up at a 4:1 proportionate angle (1 ft. out from the base for every
    4 ft. of rise) on a solid, level surface using skid planes or stabilizers, if necessary.
  2. Wear proper footwear with non-slip soles, and don’t forget that ladders should be kept free of oil, grease, wet paint, and other slipping hazards.
  3. Thoroughly inspect each ladder prior to use. If the ladder is damaged, it must be removed from service and tagged until it can be properly repaired
    or discarded.
  4. Don’t carry tools in your hand when climbing the ladder. Rather, use a window cleaner’s tool belt, or belt designed for the ladder work to
    be accomplished.
  5. Do not stand above highest “safe standing level” prescribed by ladder’s manufacturer. As a rule, never stand on the top three rungs of a straight,
    single or extension ladder.
  6. Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of both the ladder’s load rating and the weight it is supporting, including the weight
    of any tools or equipment.
  7. Always maintain at least 3 points of contact when climbing any ladder. Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder
    while ascending and descending. Never extend the center of your body’s torso past either side rail of ladder. Do not over reach.
  8. Extension or straight ladders must extend at least 3 ft. above the surface when being used to climb onto or off of an upper surface. Be sure that all
    locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
  9. Do not set up ladders in high-traffic areas. The area around the top and bottom of ladder must be kept clear. Avoid electrical hazards! Look for overhead
    power lines before handling a ladder. Never use a metal ladder or wet wooden ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment.
  10. Always provide effective employee training. To truly be effective, training must be provided in a language and at a level that employees
    understand. Their training must also be specific to the actual work they will be doing and include practical demonstrations of a ladder’s proper use.
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