Climbing the Ladder - Safely

According to Department of Labor's 1997 statistics, falls from ladders accounted for 64.3 fatal injuries in the construction category. Taking safety precautions when using ladders may reduce the risk of accidents.

May 31, 2000

According to Department of Labor’s 1997 statistics, falls from ladders accounted for 64.3 fatal injuries in the construction category. Taking safety precautions when using ladders may reduce the risk of accidents.

1. Check label: The label should certify that the ladder complies with the specifications of the American National Standards Institute and OSHA.

2. Inspect ladder: Check its rails, rungs, steps and braces, looking for bends and erosions in the materials, loose connections, screws, bolts and hinges.

3. Discard damaged ladders: If a ladder fails any safety checks, it should be replaced. Contact the ladder supplier for available replacement parts, and destroy non-repairable ladder.

4. Use caution around electricity: Fiberglass is non-conductive and the ladder of choice when working with electricity. Never use aluminum ladders with electricity.

5. Know the weight capacity: Under no circumstances should a person climb a ladder if their weight, combined with the weight of tools and equipment, exceeds the recommended duty capacity.

6. Set up the ladder properly: Place the ladder on a solid, level surface. Stepladders should be completely opened with the spreaders locked.

7. Be familiar with work surroundings: Prevent collisions by placing a barricade or guard around the ladder.

8. Climb with caution: Before ascending, secure tools in a toolbelt, or raise them with a hand line.

9. Maintain proper balance: Keep belt buckle positioned between side rails at all times, and keep three points of contact with ladder.

10. Follow common sense: With stepladders, only allow one worker on the ladder at a time. Don’t climb higher than the second step from the top of a stepladder, or the third from the top on a straight or extension ladder.

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