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March 2009

Ladder Safety

Ladders are indispensable additions to jobsites. While they are uncomplicated and simple to use, you shouldn’t take ladder safety for granted. Ladder problems are easy for inspectors to spot and therefore companies receive numerous citations for improperly using ladders every year. Some of the most common violations found:

  • The top or top step of a stepladder must not be used as a step.
  • When portable ladders are used to get to an upper landing surface, the side rails must extend three feet above the upper landing. If that is not possible because of the ladders length, then it must be tied-off at the top to a non-moveable support, and a grab rail must be provided for getting off and on.
  • The extension can never be so short that ladder deflection under a load would cause the ladder to slip off its support.
  • A portable ladder with defects such as, but not limited to broken or missing rungs, cleats, or steps; broken or split rails; corroded or other faulty or defective components, must either be immediately marked to easily identify it as defective, or be tagged with “Do Not Use” or similar language, and be withdrawn from use until repaired.

The following are just some examples of the many rules designed to ensure that ladders are used properly:

Ladder condition
  • To help prevent slipping, rungs and steps of metal ladders must be treated. Treatment can include being corrugated, knurled, dimpled, or coated with skid-resistant material.
  • Ladders must be free of oil, grease, and other slip hazards.
  • Ladders must be inspected by a competent person for visible defects periodically, and after any occurrence affecting their safe use.
Ladder Use
  • Ladders must be placed on stable and level surfaces unless tied off to prevent accidental movement.
  • Unless designed to do so, ladders must never be tied or fastened together to make them longer.
  • A ladder must not be moved, shifted, or extended while being used.
  • When going up or down a ladder, you must:
    • face the ladder.
    • use at least one hand to grasp the ladder.
    • never carry objects/loads that could cause you to lose your balance and fall.

Download the March 2009 Tip of the Month publication in Acrobat PDF format

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