Do’s and Don’ts of Ladder Safety During Ladder Safety Awareness Month

In honor of National Ladder Safety Month, we at Gallagher Bassett wanted to give a brief on dos and don’ts of ladder safety and protocol for finding and selecting the right ladder for the job.  

As reported by the American Ladder Safety Institute, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide ladders under various workplace conditions. While ladders come in various materials (wood, fiberglass and metal), the type of ladder, among other factors, can vary by job requirements.  

Choosing the Right Ladder for the Jobsite  

The environment of your worksite, including the surrounding area, should be the first factor in choosing your ladder material. Other factors and considerations to review when choosing a ladder are the following:  

  • Will the ladder be resting on an uneven surface? 
  • Is the work area crowded with people and/or materials? 
  • What obstructions are in the path of the climb? 

A key example to consider regarding the jobsite environment is this: Are you working near sources of electricity?  

A metal ladder at that jobsite is a huge no-no, as it’s an electrical conductor. If a worker comes into contact with electricity, their body can complete an electrical circuit between the electrical power source, the ladder, and then to the ground, resulting in injury or fatal accident for your staff.  

Once you’ve narrowed down the perfect type of ladder for the job, then you can decide on the ladder height you need. Ensuring your ladder height is aligned to OSHA and NYC DOB standards can help avoid fall incidents, near-misses, and of course, stay in compliance.   

As stated by OSHA, ladders are generally required under the following conditions: 

  • When there is a break in elevation of 19 inches (48 cm) or more, and no ramp, runway, embankment or personnel hoist is available, employers must provide a stairway or ladder at all worker points of access.   
  • When there is only one point of access between levels, employers must keep clear of obstacles to allow free passage by workers. If free passage becomes restricted, employers must provide a second point of access and ensure that workers use it. 
  • When there are more than two points of access between levels, employers must ensure that at least one point of access remains clear. 
  • In addition, employers must install all safety systems for stairs and ladders required by these rules and ensure that their workplace meets all the requirements of stairs and ladder rules before employees use stairs or ladders. 

For NYC DOB compliance, ensure that ladders on site and other means of egress aren’t obstructed by debris or fall/trip hazards. On average, work-related ladder falls result in one death and more than 180 nonfatal injuries every two days in America, according to the American Ladder Institute 

Risks Of Falling   

According to the American Ladder Institute, there are a few factors contributing to falls from ladders including haste, sudden movement, lack of attention, the condition of the ladder (worn or damaged), the user’s age or physical condition, or both, and the user’s footwear.  

When climbing a ladder, it is safest to use three points of contact, because it minimizes the chances of slipping and falling from the ladder.  At all times during the ascent, descent and work, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands, one foot or two feet, and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs and / or side rails.    

In this way, the climber is unlikely to become unstable if a limb slips during the climb.  It is important to note that the climber must not carry any objects in either hand that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder. Otherwise, three points of contact with the ladder cannot be adequately maintained and the probability of falling increases in the event of a hand or foot slip.  

Stay safe during National Ladder safety month, and learn more about fall protection around ladders when you register for our Virtual 8HR Fall Protection courses at Gallagher Bassett.  

We also provide NYC DOB-Approved SST training for Site Safety Managers, Mobile Elevating Work Platform Awareness courses, and the latest Chapter 33 updates with our 2022 Building Code Update Seminar