Falls from portable ladders (including step, straight, combination, and extension) are consistently one of the top 10 leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
There are 2,000 ladder injuries every day and 364 deaths caused by falls each year. Whether you’re using a ladder at home or at work, these numbers affect you.
Presented by the American Ladder Institute, National Ladder Safety Month is the only movement dedicated exclusively to the promotion of ladder safety, at home and at work.
This is the first blog post in a series containing important information about ladder safety.
Choosing the Right Ladder
There are three things to consider when choosing the safest ladder to use for a job: material, length, and duty rating
The material from which your ladder is constructed should depend on the worksite. If you are near live wires or sources of electricity, do not use an aluminum ladder. Aluminum is a conductor of electricity and you could be affected by any contact with wiring. Wood or fiberglass is a great, but heavier, alternative when there are electrical power sources in the work area.
Ladder length is an important consideration because any ladder that is too long or too short is unsafe. If you need to stand on the top cap or the step of a step ladder or the top three rungs of an extension ladder, you need to use a taller ladder.
On the other hand, a straight ladder is too long if the height of the ceiling prohibits the ladder from being set up at the proper angle. An extension ladder is too long if the ladder extends more than three feet beyond the upper support point because the portion of the ladder that extends above the upper support point can act like a lever and cause the base of the ladder to move or slide out.
The Duty Rating found on the specifications label of a ladder is an indication of the maximum weight capacity the ladder can safely carry. Do not assume that a longer ladder will have a higher weight capacity; there is no correlation between length and the amount of weight a ladder can safely hold.
To figure out the total amount of weight your ladder will be supporting, add the weight of the person climbing the ladder, the weight of clothing and protective equipment, and the tools and supplies being carried or stored on the ladder.
OSHA has provided a quick guide to ladder safety that you can download to print and distribute. Click here to access the guide.
From step stools to extension ladders, make sure you're putting the right foot forward this March during Ladder Safety Month.