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Reason for the Talk

Climbing to any height on a ladder can be dangerous.


Using ladders the wrong way leads to more than 100 deaths and over 1,200 injuries each year. There can be serious consequences to using any type of ladder incorrectly. For example:

A joiner working from a leaning ladder started to replace a gutter. He applied force to the guttering to free it from a bracket, lost his balance and fell 12 feet. He broke a bone in his back resulting in 10 days in hospital and 6 months off work. He can now only do light work that does not involve heavy lifting.

Note that you don’t need to fall from high up in order to get seriously injured! More people get injuries such as broken arms and legs by falling less than 6 feet from a ladder.

OSHA Standard Number 1926.1053

Prevention Steps

Nearly all ladder injuries can be prevented if you follow the guidelines and regulations.

Inspect the ladder before you step on the rung.

Ladders come in many shapes and sizes – make sure you choose the appropriate ladder for the job. Never use a ladder for any purpose other than the one for which it was designed. Check the length and load limit requirements for each individual user. The weight limits include both you and any equipment you’re carrying.

Ladder ratings:

  • I-A means it can hold 300 pounds (heavy duty)
  • I is rated for 250 pounds (heavy duty)
  • II is rated for 225 pounds (medium duty)
  • III is rated for just 200 pounds (light). These are generally for homeowner use and not for use on the job site.
  • A stepladder should be no more than 20 feet high (safer 10 feet or less).
  • A one-section ladder should be no more than 30 feet tall.
  • An extension ladder can extend to 60 feet, but the sections must overlap.
  • Ladders should be kept free of oil, grease, wet paint and other slippery substances.
  • Ladders can break like any other tool. Check for missing steps, split side rails, missing or damaged tie rods, broken rungs, and defective or missing safety feet. You don’t want to discover a broken part after you’re 12 feet up in the air. If you see any of these, do not use the ladder or try to repair it yourself. Remove it from use and report it.

Position the ladder correctly

  • Check that all ladder feet are in solid contact with a level surface that can support the weight.
  • Try not to position a stepladder sideways to your work area because it will be less stable. Instead, face the ladder towards your work area.
  • Make sure the stepladder is the appropriate length and do not stand on the top two steps of a stepladder (unless it has handrails).
  • If the ladder is used to reach a roof or other elevated surface, it should extend at least three feet above the roof for safe access.

Use the ladder properly

  • Always maintain three points of contact while on the ladder – the Three-Point Rule: One hand and two feet or two hands and one foot in contact with the ladder at all times when ascending or descending the ladder.
  • Keep your belt buckle within the side rails at all time and don’t try to overreach. Climb down and move the ladder!
  • While climbing, use a tool belt to leave your hands free.
  • Use a safety belt if both hands must be occupied with your work.
  • Lift any other additional items up only after you are at the top.

Discussion Q.A.

  • When positioning a stepladder what should you check for?
  • When positioning a leaning ladder what should you check for?
  • Have you ever used a ladder incorrectly? What reasons did you give yourself to excuse the improper use and take the risk? How good would those reasons sound if you’d been injured?

Main point of the session

Do you know how to use a ladder correctly?

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