Many worksite injuries are caused by accidents involving ladders that are not placed or used safely. Following these safety guidelines can help prevent ladder accidents. Before using any ladder check its condition. Make sure there are no broken, cracked, or missing rails and that rungs are not slippery from grease or oil. Check for damage or corrosion on metal ladders as well. If a ladder is in poor condition, do not use it. Report the problem so it can be tagged and repaired. A competent person should periodically inspect all ladders and remove damaged ladders from use until they are repaired.
When choosing and using a ladder, keep the following in mind:
- Choose the appropriate type and size ladder for the job.
- If you are near electrical conductors or equipment use only ladders with non-conductive side rails. Set the ladder on solid footing, against a solid support.
- Place the base of a straight ladder away from the wall or edge of the upper level about one foot for every four feet of vertical height.
- Be sure straight ladders are long enough so that the side rails extend above the top support point by at least 36 inches.
- Single cleat job-made ladders should be 15 to 20 inches wide with ladder cleats uniformly spaced 12 inches apart.
- Never try to increase the height of a ladder by standing it on other objects, such as boxes or barrels, or by splicing two ladders together.
- Portable ladders should be tied, blocked or otherwise secured against movement.
- Keep ladders away from doorways or walkways, unless they can be protected by barriers.
- Keep the area around the top and base of the ladder clear. Don't run hoses, extension cords or ropes on a ladder.
- To avoid slipping on a ladder, check your shoes for oil, grease or mud and wipe it off before climbing.
- Climb the ladder carefully, facing it and using both hands. Use a tool belt or hand line to carry materials.
- Most ladders are designed to hold only one person at a time. Two people may cause the ladder to fail or be thrown off balance.
- Don't lean out to the side when you are on a ladder. If something is out of reach, get down and move the ladder.
- Ladders should never be used sideways as platforms, runways or scaffolds.
Choosing and using ladders wisely is a step in the right direction.