Many ladder-related injuries and fatalities can be prevented when employers and workers take time to follow OSHA's safe ladder use guidelines. Careful planning, the use of safety equipment, and proper training can help keep workers safe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that workplace falls are a leading cause of death and approximately half of the fall-related deaths are from ladders. There were 113 deaths in 2011 due to work-related falls from ladders. That same year employers reported 15,460 nonfatal injuries from ladder falls that required at least at least one missed workday. For the construction industry, 81 percent of fall injuries that required emergency room treatment were ladder-related falls. Companies with the fewest employees have the highest fatality rates.
OSHA Guidelines Help Workers Stay Safe
OSHA began an ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign in 2012 that provides employers and workers with educational materials and other information to help prevent ladder falls on the job. OSHA states many ladder-related injuries can be prevented by following three simple guidelines.
Plan ahead: Projects should be planned well in advance to ensure proper equipment is available to complete each task. Necessary safety equipment should always be used by full-time employees, contractors and other workers who use ladders.
Select safe equipment: Anytime workers will be completing tasks at a height of six feet or above, they are at increased risk for serious injury or death from a fall. Ladders and scaffolds should be inspected prior to beginning the task to ensure they are safe for use.
Training for all workers: All workers should be trained in the proper set-up and use of ladders, scaffolds, and safety equipment. Workers should be able to identify potential hazards to maintain a safe work environment.
Workers should always follow manufacturer instructions and face the ladder when climbing up or down. When on ladders, individuals should maintain 3 points of contact. That may be two hands and a foot or both feet and one hand. Tasks that require both hands should be completed on scaffolding. Employers should provide properly fitted personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) for roof work and when workers are using scaffolding. Employees who are injured while at work can obtain details on their rights and legal options by consulting with a work injury lawyer.