Updates & Insights for EHS Professionals
Ladders are used widely in the occupational sec-tor to complete various tasks, but they present quite a few safety hazards. You always want to select the correct ladder for the task you are completing. Keep in mind:
• How high you need to reach;
• How much weight the ladder will need to hold;
• Is this an indoor or outdoor task?
Ladders come in three basic materials: wood, fiberglass, and metal. Choosing the correct ma-terial is dependent many factors including whether your work will be conducted inside or outside, or if there is a risk of coming into contact with electricity. If the potential for electrical con-tact exists, a fiberglass and wood ladder would be best since they are not good conductors of electricity.
Ladders should always be placed on solid foundations. If there is no other way to per-form the task, then try to se-cure a board on the soft sur-face you are working on to provide stability. When the ladder is set, it needs to be leaning on a surface that can support the weight and will not move.
If there are any entrances or openings around the base of the ladder, they should be locked out so that no one can knock the ladder over.
Be sure that the appropriate length to height ratio is used when having the ladder resting on the side of something; for every four feet in height that your ladder reaches up the side of the structure, it should be one foot away. For example: if my lad-der height is 20 feet up the side of a building, the base should be five feet away from the wall.
While the top step of a ladder can easily be mis-taken for an actual step, this is not its intended pur-pose. This top step is not to be used, and is the cause of many ladder in-juries and falls.
Regardless of how badly you need a tool, never have someone climb up the ladder to give it to you. Only one person should be on a ladder at a time.
When performing work on a ladder be sure to not overreach or lean, but simply climb down and re-position the ladder. Always wear slip resistant shoes to avoid falling and wear a tool belt to keep your hands free.
In addition to these factors, environmental condi-tions should be considered. No ladders should not be used in heavy wind or inclement weather. If any bad weather does occur while on the job, it is safer to climb down and wait for it to pass. After the storm, give the ladder a good wash down to prevent dirt buildup.
If you follow these safety tips you can avoid be-ing on OSHA’s Top 10 List! Ladder safety came in at number three on this list in 2021. Falls are incredibly dangerous and you should take every pre-caution possible when working at heights. STEP believes an educated workforce is a safe work-force and we can help with all of your ladder safety needs!