#7 Ladders -Top OSHA Violations of 2013
#7 Ladders - Part of the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for Fiscal 2013 Series
Workers who use ladders in construction risk permanent injury or death from falls and electrocutions. Ladders are one of the most commonly used and abused tools in the field and every year hundreds of people are hurt at work while using ladders. These hazards can be eliminated or substantially reduced by following good safety practices. This fact sheet examines some of the hazards workers may encounter while working on ladders and explains what employers and workers can do to reduce injuries and prevent possible citations for ladders.
Typically injuries occur when ladders are used for purposes other than those designated by the manufacturer—when the top step of a stepladder is used as a step, when ladders are not used on stable and level surfaces or when defective ladders are not withdrawn from service. Most employee injuries can be attributed to insufficient or inadequate training and a disregard for safe operating procedures.
Employers must train each worker to recognize and minimize ladder-related hazards. The most common ladder hazards in the field are:
- Using damaged ladders
- Placing ladders on slippery or unstable surface
- Not engaging the ladder spreaders in the full locked position
- Standing on the top step or top cap
- Loading ladder beyond rated load
- Ladders in high-traffic location
- Reaching outside ladder side rails
- Ladders in close proximity to electrical wiring/equipment
- Reaching or learning too far rather than moving the ladder.
- Placing the ladder on boxes or pallets to make it taller.
- Climbing the ladder while carrying items.
- Using the wrong ladder for the job, such as using a step ladder as a straight ladder.
Inspecting your ladder before each use can help detect hazards with the ladder itself. OSHA states that a ladder must be inspected regularly for visible defects by a competent person and after any incident that could affect its safe use. Check your ladder for damage before each use. If a ladder is damaged, label it, do not use, and take it away until it is fixed. Destroy it if it can’t be fixed.
Training is a key element to the safe use of ladders. Employers must ensure that employees are provided with training and information in relation to safe ladder use. Ladder users must be competent in their use. They must know how to check it, carry it, erect it, use it, and move it all in a safe manner.
With training you have to consider supervision, a lack of adequate supervision can lead to deterioration or misuse of equipment. Supervisors should ensure that inspection and maintenance regimes are implemented and recorded. Supervisors should ensure that misuse of ladders is not taking place and that all users have received the appropriate training in relation to safe use of ladders.