In 2015 alone, ladder-related incidents resulted in more than 20,000 non-fatal injuries and more than 150 worker fatalities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ladder Safety Tips
Haselden Construction Senior Safety Manager Travis Weber offers some ladder safety tips that are easy to implement whether you’re at home or on the job site:
- Use the right type of ladder for the job.
- Use the right size ladder for your job; be sure not to try and make do with an undersized ladder by standing on one of the top two rungs.
- Inspect your ladder prior to use to ensure it’s in good condition. Things to keep an eye out for include bent or cracked rungs, cracked side rails, missing slip-resistant safety feet on the bottom, and pop-rivets that aren’t in place. Also, make sure it’s clean (free from grease, mud, paint, etc. that could cause a slip and fall).
- When using an extension ladder, make sure the ladder is tied off and secured to keep it from slipping or falling. If it’s not possible to secure it, use a second team member to hold the ladder.
- Proper ladder set up is key! Use a 4’-to-1’ ladder angle, meaning for every 4’ the ladder is vertical, the base should be extended 1’ out from the vertical surface. Additionally, an extension ladder should extend 3’ above the top walking working surface it rests on.
- Use the “belt buckle rule” – keep your belt buckle between the rails of the ladder to ensure balance stability.
- Always use three points of contact when climbing and descending—two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet. Don’t carry tools while moving up or down the ladder—use a haul rope to pull up tools or materials.
Even if you’re not the person on the ladder, you can still take extra steps to exercise safe practices around ladders. Be aware of the environments surrounding ladder placement, especially in hallways and around doorways. Avoid walking by or next to (and, of course, under) ladders in use, and try to find an alternate route.
Ladder safety doesn’t take much time or effort, but it is certainly worth your attention. Want to dedicate some more time to learning ladder safety? The American Ladder Institute (ALI) offers free online Ladder Safety Training!
We’ve also got some great downloadable/printable PDFs on our Resources page!