The Importance of Ladder Safety
Using a ladder to perform work at heights is typical for many individuals working in a wide variety of industrial settings. Because 81% of fall injuries which land people in U.S. emergency departments and 43% of fatal falls in the last decade involve a ladder, safety while working at heights is essential.
Utilizing the Right Ladder
The most important consideration when choosing the proper ladder to complete the task at hand is absolutely safety. While the efficiency of using the same stepladder for various activities can be tempting, using a ladder for tasks is was not designed for can lead to serious injuries.
Despite company safety policies warning against it, one of the most common mistakes made at work is simply leaning a step ladder against a wall while in the closed position. That being said, the leaning stepladder has transformed ladder safety in recent years, allowing it to be used safely while in a closed position. These innovative solutions are compliant with OSHA 1926.1053(b)(4) and have changed three core design elements of the product:
The back legs must be locked in a closed position to satisfy OSHA requirements. Also, ladder users must elevate the back feet from the ground to ensure the ladder does not shift while in use.
A pad must be added to the top cap to further support the ladder while leaning. Some companies take this further with modifications when working in corners or on framed walls.
The feet must be amended to feature either a curve or swivel foot, maximizing the surface contact.
Proper Staff Training on Ladder Safety
As previously mentioned, OSHA regulations state that personnel must be trained to comply to their standards. Employees must receive training in their first/primary language, which is necessary both initially and as-needed for workplace safety.
The ladder’s maximum intended load can be located on a sticker attached to the ladder near the top. It should be based on the ladder’s “maximum ladder capacity.” For example, here are the guidelines for using mobile ladders.
Parallel rungs are necessary as they will be a factor in balancing weight when being used. Your employees must understand how to securely choose, examine, climb, and operate from a ladder. Training should be conducted by a trained professional and should include the following topics:
- The characteristics of fall risks and how to identify them
- Methods on how to reduce the risk of a fall
- When and how to employ fall prevention devices, as well as their inspection and maintenance
- The nature of ladder (equipment) risks, as well as how to identify and mitigate them
- Procedures for ladder use concerning specific job requirements
- Acceptable ladder practices before, during, and after service
All ladder training should be up-to-date every three years. It is also required for staff to demonstrate ladder safety knowledge through a written test. Moreover, all staff must receive the ladder safety training within six months of their hiring date.
Ladder safety is not a concern that can be dealt with effectively by being complacent. Ignoring OSHA-recommended safety protocols can lead to serious fall accidents. These incidents can result in devastating injuries for workers including head trauma, limb injuries, and even death.
Ladder safety training sessions should be conducted by ladder safety professionals who are certified through a third-party compliance agency. The only point at which your company can be confident that all workers are safe using ladders while working at heights in an industrial setting is after meeting comprehensive ladder safety training compliance. It is important to note that not all ladders are created equally, and although they may be used for similar purposes, workers must not use a ladder other than the purpose of its specific use. Each ladder must be assessed for its intended use and marked accordingly.
While changes in OSHA guidelines over the years are helping to make the industry safer, workers will always need to take care while working at heights to avoid injury. It is essential to remember that if a safety policy states that no ladder should be leaning, you could still be liable to be fined by OSHA when not in compliance.