Using a ladder is a safer alternative to using a makeshift climbing device or an improvised work platform. However, using a ladder incorrectly can result in serious, even fatal injuries. There are reportedly more than 100,000 ladder related injuries in the United States annually.
Gravity never forgets. As soon as you set foot on the ladder’s first rung and pull your body off the ground, gravity works to bring you back to earth. Therefore, it’s no surprise that ladder safety begins from the ground up.
Ask these questions before you start to work on a ladder:
- Do you really need to use a ladder? Is there a safer way to get up to the work or can you use a tool to get to the work?
- What type of ladder should you use? If you must use a ladder, make sure you use the best ladder for the job. If at all possible, use ladders equipped with a work platform and handrails. If using a step ladder, ensure that it is tall enough. A ladder which is too short will force you into unsafe situations.
- Is the ladder in good condition? Inspect the ladder before each use. If you find a problem with the ladder, inform your supervisor. Do not use.
- Is the ladder properly set up? Position the ladder correctly. Place the base on a solid, non-slip surface.
- Do you understand safe ladder work habits?
- Wear clean, dry, slip-resistant shoes and use ladders with slip resistant feet.
- Follow the belt buckle rule when using a stepladder, making sure your belt buckle goes no
higher than the top step of the ladder.
- Don’t lean too far or overreach. Reposition the ladder closer to the work instead.
- Always maintain three points of contact (two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet).
Remember, don’t let gravity get you down. Practice ladder safety every time you climb to make your work easier, faster and safer.