Top 5 Ladder Dos and Don’ts to Prevent Falls, Injuries, and Fatalities

Top 5 Ladder Dos and Don’ts to Prevent Falls, Injuries, and Fatalities

Apr 21, 2020

Top 5 Ladder Dos and Don’ts to Prevent Falls, Injuries, and Fatalities

Your insured may be an ambitious Do-It-Yourselfer ready to tackle an at-home project or could be an experienced contractor on another day at the job. Regardless, the possible outcomes of a ladder-related incident are the same. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 452 deaths from falls off a ladder in 2018, though thousands of injuries are sustained annually.

Contributing factors for fatalities and injuries related to ladders are haste; sudden movement; lack of attention; conditions of the ladder; the user’s age or physical condition, or both; and the user’s footwear, according to the American Ladder Institute.

It’s important for underwriters and loss control experts to make sure those who may be using a ladder are trained on which type is best for the job, what they should do before getting on the ladder, and how to correctly use one.

Improper ladder use ranked No. 6, with 2,780 citations, in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Top 10 Most Cited Violations for 2019. Premiums frequently increase following an OSHA violation because the insurance company can’t trust the policyholder not to violate it again.

Here are the Top 5 Ladder Safety Dos and Don’ts to help remind your clients how to stay safe on the job or while doing an at-home project.

1. Do Take a Self-Assessment

Risk starts with the person who is going on the ladder, and a self-assessment should be completed. People who feel tired or dizzy or are prone to losing their balance should not use a ladder. Being stressed or rushed may also affect someone’s actions.

Those who are in the right frame of mind and physical condition to climb a ladder should also make sure they’re in the appropriate wardrobe. Clean, slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles are best. Leather-soled shoes are not suitable. Other safety equipment, such as eye protection while climbing ladders around trees, should be considered.

2. Do Check the Surroundings

The environment around where a ladder will be used could present a risk.

Those who are working outdoors should never be on a ladder during high winds or storms. Ladders, especially metal, shouldn’t be placed near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment, which should be marked as potentially hazardous. Ladder incidents involving electricity or weather have been known to result in fatalities.

Inside or out, it’s important a ladder isn’t placed in front of a door that could open into it. The door should be blocked or locked from the other side. The ladder should also be secured or have a barricade around it to avoid getting jostled if other activities are going on nearby.

3. Do Inspect the Ladder

The users should have read and followed all ladder safety and instruction labels to be considered trained. But more importantly, they should inspect the ladder before using it to avoid potential risk.

Rungs, steps, and ladder feet should not have any slippery materials. If any part is loose, broken, or missing or if the ladder sways or leans, it must be repaired prior to use or immediately thrown away.

4. Do Consider Ladder Placement

Fractures, concussions, and dislocations could result from falling from an unstable ladder, slipping, or being struck by a falling ladder, according to OSHA.

It’s important to find a stable and level surface to place a ladder. Outside, soft spots or holes should be avoided to keep it from moving or falling. If there isn’t a level surface, the ladder should be secured.

A ladder should never be put on top of something else, like boxes, barrels, or chairs, to make it taller.

5. Do Know How to Stand

Climbing a ladder isn’t like walking up the stairs, and certain actions must be taken.

The user must always face a ladder and maintain a three-point contact — two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand — while climbing up or down. Additionally, the person’s body must always stay near the middle of the step. These guidelines decrease the likelihood of a person losing his or her footing.

1. Don’t Choose the Wrong Ladder

Different types of ladders are designed for specific tasks. They include extension ladders, A-frame ladders, straight ladders, multi-position ladders, platform ladders, and step ladders. To select the correct type, consider the needed size, if you need it multi-functional, and if it should be freestanding or supported.

Other considerations for choosing the appropriate ladder are height and duty ratings. Extension ladders should be at least 3 feet above the upper landing surface, such as a roof. This follows the overarching rule that operators should avoid being on the top rungs or steps of any ladder.

The duty rating, which includes how much weight the ladder can hold and is listed on the specifications label on the side of the ladder, should be four times the maximum intended load. Some people think the longer the ladder is, the more weight it can hold; however, there is no relationship to ladder length and weight capacity. Users should keep in mind that weight includes themselves, their tools, and any other equipment they plan to use on the ladder.

There are five categories of ladder duty ratings: Type IAA (Extra Heavy Duty), 375 pounds; Type IA (Extra Heavy Duty), 300 lbs.; Type I (Heavy Duty), 250 lbs.; Type II (Medium Duty), 225 lbs.; and Type III (Light Duty) 200 lbs.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Report Problems

Safety training is important for anyone who is going to be using a ladder or near someone who is. But trainees should be able to apply it and be willing to report unsafe conditions immediately. That means discarding a broken ladder prior to use or alerting someone of hazardous areas. Everyone should also know the emergency response procedures in advance in case anything goes awry.

3. Don’t Lean or Overreach

OSHA reports that sprains and strains are the most common types of injuries from ladder-related incidents, and some of the causes are overreaching.

When someone leans too far, there is potential to injury oneself, such as pulling a muscle. The user could also fall off the ladder or pull the ladder over sideways.

The way to alleviate this risk is for the user to keep his or her body between the side rails and to get off and move the ladder as needed.

4. Don’t Move a Ladder Incorrectly

The potential risk increases when someone moves a ladder because of the possible injury to the user or someone nearby. Before moving a ladder, it is critical to know proper lifting techniques to avoid accidents or injuries.

Ladders should be moved one at a time. The correct way to carry one is to place one arm through it and balance it on a shoulder. Ladders should be held horizontally with the top facing forward, especially when moving it long distances. Users should watch out for others and surrounding objects, though everyone in the area should be on the lookout.

5. Don’t Overload Hands

Ladder users frequently require tools or other equipment while on a ladder, but they need to make sure they have a safe way to bring them up.

Hands should be free while climbing a ladder to maintain the proper three-point contact and to help the person remain steady and not fall. A person can get tools where they are needed by using towlines, a tool belt, or asking for help.

Ladders are an integral item both in the home and on the jobsite to complete projects. JMI Reports is available for loss control inspections or underwriting assessments for both worksites and residential properties to lessen ladder safety hazards. We can also perform workers compensation queries to ensure employees are trained on proper ladder safety training techniques to avoid falls, injuries, or fatalities.



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