Falls from ladders cause over 100 deaths and thousands of disabling injuries each year in the United States. These incidents also include injuries to nearly 900 workers in Washington State. Improper ladder use ranked 8th among the state’s top 10 workplace safety and health violations for all industries in 2019.

National Ladder Safety Month takes place every March to educate, train, and involve the public in preventing ladder-related injuries and fatalities at home and at work. The yearly observance began in 2017 as an initiative of the American Ladder Institute, the only approved developer of ladder industry safety standards in the country.

Common causes of workplace ladder-related incidents include:

  • Lack of ladder safety training.
  • The ladder used is in bad condition.
  • The ladder moves, falls over, or is set up improperly.
  • The worker slips on the rungs, overreaches, or carries objects while climbing the ladder.
  • The worker stands on the ladder’s top step.

The following tips can help keep workers safe while using ladders:

Plan for the job:

  • Use the right ladder for the job with the proper load capacity.
  • Inspect the ladder for defects and remove unsafe ladders from service.
  • Use a fiberglass ladder if there is any chance of contact with electricity.

Set your ladder carefully:

  • Set the ladder on a firm, level base, and angle it per the manufacturer’s guidance.
  • Don’t set the ladder near exit doors or near the path of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  • Make sure the ladder extends 3 feet above the landing.

Climb safely:

  • When climbing, use three points of contact — keep 1 hand and both feet or both hands and 1 foot in contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Never carry any load that could cause you to lose balance.
  • Never stand on the top step of a ladder.
  • Don’t pull, lean, stretch or make sudden moves on a ladder that could cause it to tip over.

Use the resources below to help you plan and train for the safe use of ladders:

Keep Trucking Safe tanker trailer ladder simulation tool

Keep Trucking Safe flatbed trailer ladder safety tips

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries ladder safety webpage

OSHA ladder safety training fact sheets

OSHA construction ladders safety eTool

NIOSH Ladder Safety app to improve extension and step ladder safety


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