Ladders are the reason that more than 900,000 people end up in the emergency room each year. Not many people realize that. Ladders also account for over 700 occupational deaths every year in the U.S. These numbers indicate that there is a strong need for ladder safety. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) ranks ladder safety high each year on the annual “Top 10 Serious Violations” list. This means that not only was there a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result but also that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard. This is a serious violation of safety protocols.
What Do You Need to Know About Ladder Safety?
The seriousness of these violations is especially problematic when you consider that it is relatively easy to correctly perform ladder safety techniques. This is the reason that OSHA has taken a strong stance on promoting proper ladder safety guidelines.
One Step at a Time
OSHA was created in 1970 by congress to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for men and women. Since then, standards have been enforced through outreach, training, education, and assistance. New rules, regulations, and guidelines continue to be developed each year to keep workers safe in response to the ever-changing and evolving world. While technology has had its hand in making conditions safer for workers, simple tasks (such as climbing a ladder) still cause problems. That’s why there are strict guidelines that workers must adhere to when using ladders.
OSHA Guidelines Regarding Ladders
Some of the general rules provided by OSHA for ladder safety include:
- ALWAYS maintain 3-point contact on the ladder when climbing. Three-point contact is: two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand.
- ALWAYS inspect the ladder prior to using it.
- Avoid electrical hazards such as overhead power lines. Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines or exposed electrical equipment.
- Use a ladder on a stable and level surface, unless it has been secured to prevent displacement.
- Do not exceed the maximum load (this includes your weight plus any equipment) rating of a ladder.
- Make sure the ladder is free of slippery material on the rungs, steps or on your feet. Wear slip-resistant shoes.
- Do not use a ladder if you feel tired or dizzy.
- Read the safety information on the ladders label.
- Do not allow more than one person on a ladder at a time.
- Face the ladder and maintain one hand in constant contact while climbing up or down.
Ignorance is not an option when it comes to ladder safety. Ladder accidents can be deadly and there is no reward in risking your life or that of others. It is simple to initiate and enforce ladder safety protocol in any building and it goes a long way in protecting workers and your business. Anytime a ladder is in use, you must pay attention to your surroundings and follow all rules and regulations. This is the only way to keep yourself and others safe.