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7 Tips for Working Safely With Ladders

Working at height can be dangerous or, in the worst case, even deadly. According to
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers who are six feet or
more above the ground are at high risk for serious injury or death if they fall. Based
on a WHO Report in 2016, falls from height are the second leading cause of
accidental or unintentional injury & deaths worldwide. The study highlighted that
approximately 20% of fall related injuries among construction workers involved a
ladder and half of those accidents were due to people carrying items as they

Many people may not consider ladder safety to be a major issue, but the statistics
clearly show that anyone working with a latter should consider the important safety
aspects that may save them from injury or death. Ladders come in variety of shapes,
sizes, and materials. There are portable wood ladders and metal ladders, also
platform ladders, Trestle ladders, and many more. Each type of ladder has its own
strengths and weaknesses and thus each may have different risk assessments and
safety guidance. However, the most important thing to understand about working
with a ladder is when you can use it; which is where the work is light and short,
entailing no more than 30 minutes in one position.

Here are 7 quick tips on working with a ladder:

1. Before you use the ladder, please make sure there are no cracked or bent stiles
or rungs, defective or missing fittings or ties, and that the ladder is free of corrosion.

2. Take note of any hazards in your work environment such as the weather, ground,
and height.

3. Always secure your ladder by tying the base/midway/top stiles onto a strong &
stable structure.

4. Remember C.L.I.M.B. supplied courtesy of Louisville Ladder:

C : Choose the right ladder for the job

L : Look for damaged or missing parts
I : Insure a safe, stable setup
M : Move carefully, using three points of contact
B : Be a safety expert, not a statistic

5. Remember the three points of contact rule: always maintain one hand – two
feet or two hands – one foot when you are climbing or descending. Mind your hand
free from carriage and always face the ladder.

6. Do not overreach and overload.

7. When you finish, please check the ladder for any damage and safely return it to

While the quick tips above can help with safety and lessen the risk when using a
ladder, they are not necessarily enough to prevent an emergency from occurring.
What if an unpredictable slip or fall occurs? Those whose profession involves
frequently working at height and/or with ladders may want to consider using
additional safety equipment such as a fall arrest system as a further safeguard.

Samson Tiara can provide essential training for those who frequently work at height.
Our two day Working at Heights course can provide you or your workers with the
proper understanding and skills required to work safely at height, how to identify
emergency situations, and how to use various types of fall protection equipment and
rescue techniques when needed. Participants will go through both theoretical and
practical exercises to ensure their competence to do their jobs and safely return to
the ground.

Basic Ladder Safety

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Ladders are tools. Many of the basic safety rules that apply to most tools also apply to the safe use of a ladde

 If you feel tired or dizzy, or are prone to losing your balance, stay off the ladder.
 Do not use ladders in high winds or storms.
 Wear clean slip-resistant shoes. Shoes with leather soles are not appropriate for ladder use since they are no
 Before using a ladder,inspect it to confirm it is in good working condition.
o Ladders with loose or missing parts must be rejected. Rickety ladders that sway or lean to the side mu
 The ladder you select must be the right size for the job.
o The Duty Rating of the ladder must be greater than the total weight of the climber,tools,supplies,and
must be sufficient so that the climber does not have to stand on the top rung or step.
 When the ladder is set-up for use, it must be placed on firm level ground and without any type of slippery con
 Only one person at a time is permitted on a ladder unless the ladder is specifically designed for more than one
 Ladders must not be placed in front of closed doors that can open toward the ladder. The door must be block
 Read the safety information labels on the ladder.
o The on-product safety information is specific to the particular type of ladder on which it appears. The
the ladder until familiar with this information.

The Three Point-of-Contact Climb

Factors contributing to falls from ladders include haste, sudden movement, lack of attention, the condition of
condition, or both, and the user's footwear.

 Although the user's weight or size typically does not increase the likelihood of a fall, improper climbing postur
chances of falling during the climb by:
 wearing slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles to prevent foot fatigue;
 cleaning the soles of shoes to maximize traction;
 using towlines, a tool belt or an assistant to convey materials so that the climbers hands are free when climbin
 climbing slowly and deliberately while avoiding sudden movements;
 never attempting to move a ladder while standing on it;
 keeping the center of your belt buckle (stomach) between the ladder side rails when climbing and while work
off the ladder sideways or pull the ladder over sideways while standing on it.

When climbing a ladder, it is safest to utilize Three Points-of-Contact because it minimizes the chances of sli
descent, and working, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one
rails. In this way, the climber is not likely to become unstable in the event one limb slips during the climb. It
objects in either hand that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder. Otherwise, Three Points-of-Contact wi
chance of falling is increased in the event a hand or foot slip occurs.
OSHA Ladder Safety Documents
Agriculture: Protecting Workers from Tripod Orchard Ladder Injuries QuickCard New
(OSHA 3705 - 2014) (English: PDF )
(OSHA 3705 - 2014) (Spanish: PDF )

Agriculture: Safe Use of Tripod Orchard Ladders Fact SheetNew

(OSHA FS-3728– 2014) (English: PDF)

Ladder Safety: Reducing Falls in Construction: Safe Use of Extension Ladders Fact Sheet New
(OSHA FS-3660 - 2013) (English: PDF)

Ladder Safety: Reducing Falls in Construction: Safe Use of Job-made Wooden Ladders Fact Sheet New
(OSHA FS-3661 - 2013) (English: HTML PDF)

Ladder Safety: Reducing Falls in Construction: Safe Use of Stepladders Fact Sheet New
(OSHA FS-3662 - 2013) (English: PDF)

For further reading:

Basic Ladder Safety – American Ladder Institute


EHS Today. CDC: There’s Nothing ‘Easy’ About Falling Off a Ladder

Health & Safety Authority, 2007, Using Ladder Safely, Dublin

Portable Ladder Safety – OSHA