Injuries and Illness

Climbing to the Top

You go up a ladder. You go down a ladder. What’s the big deal? According to safety statistics, at least 100,000 people fall from ladders each year and injure themselves, while 300 will die in falls from ladders.

Let’s look at the dangers involved with a ladder. These are based on actual incidents that have occurred to some unfortunate workers:

  • The ladder could slide, slip, tip over or break.
  • A metal ladder could contact a live overhead electrical power line.
  • Ladders propped on top of other surfaces for height could shift.
  • Passing carts, cars, trucks or people underneath could hit the ladder.
  • The rungs could be slippery, broken or unstable.
  • The ladder may not be high enough to reach the desired area, which could result in the climber over-reaching and falling.
  • The climber carries too many objects causing a loss of balance.

How can you avoid these problems? Follow safe work procedures and know how to recognize a defective ladder.

Here are some tips:

  • Choose the right ladder for the job. Don’t use a metal ladder if you are working near live wires.
  • Check the load limits of the ladder to make sure you don’t exceed them.
  • Choose a ladder that will allow you to reach your goal without having to stand on the top step.
  • Check the condition of the ladder. Make sure legs, rungs, and rails are not weakened.
  • Clean oil or grease off the rungs and side rails.
  • Make sure extension ladder locks are in good condition.
  • Use the one to four rule of thumb: for every four feet of ladder height, position the ladder one foot from the wall.
  • If footing isn’t secure, lash the ladder.
  • Keep tools in a work apron or belt and face the ladder as you climb or descend.
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