When your employees use a ladder, have they checked that it is safe before use? Is your ladder safety program up to the job, or is it down in the gutter?  Is your ladder safety program being properly implemented? When was the last time a competent person inspected all the ladders on your site?  Has everyone using ladders been trained on how to safely use a ladder? Well, if you said, I don’t know or I’m not sure.  Then maybe we need to revisit our ladder safety and training programs.

From Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015, ladders were number 7 on the OSHAs top 10 most frequently cited standards (1926.1053 Ladders) (OSHA, 2016). According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) “Falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide, and 43% of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder (1). Among workers, approximately 20% of fall injuries involve ladders (2–4). Among construction workers, an estimated 81% of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments (EDs) involve a ladder (5).” (CDC, 2014).

OSHA requires us to inspect our ladders with a competent person for visible defects on a periodic basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use. Anyone straight out of an OSHA 30 Hr. course will probably remember that from their training. They may even remember that ladders must support at least four times the maximum intended load and a few other things about OSHAs ladders safety requirements (OSHA, 2016). But do they really know the basics of ladder safety?

The Basics, remembering the basics. Are we enforcing the basics of ladder safety on the job every time a ladder is used?

A few simple basics that every employee using a ladder should know before use. All ladders shall be inspected before use. Defective ladders taken out of service and tagged.  Always face the ladder when climbing a ladder, and use 3-points-of-contact.  Never carry objects in their hands when climbing ladders, use a tool belt, have someone hand up tools or lift tools and equipment up to employees.  Stepladders, never use the top two steps.  Ladders used over doorways, secure the door from opening or post a guard to keep the door closed. Ladders not used on slippery surfaces unless secured or provided with slip-resistant feet to prevent accidental displacement.  No painting of wooden ladders.  Us nonconductive ladders around electricity.  Ladder side rails shall extend at least 3 ft. / 0.9 m above the upper landing surface to which the ladder is used to gain access. Ladders used at a 4 to 1 / 75-degree angle. Ladders tied or footed when accessing ladders. Ladder rungs kept free from mud or other slip or trip materials. Scaffolds, ensure that employees check the scaff-tag each time they access a scaffold. Lastly, any employee using any style of ladders, must be trained and that training documented.

Sure, the OSHA standard has a lot more requirements, but if we can just remember to use these basics of the OSHA ladders standard and your companies ladder safety program. We will go a long way in preventing ladder accidents.


CDC. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6316a2.htm

 OSHA. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Top_Ten_Standards.html

Handmade Ladder Hazards

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