Ladder safety is a common topic because ladders are a common cause of injury. It is important to always be cautious when working on or with a ladder. An accident can happen at any time and falling from a ladder compounds the severity of the incident. Here are a few rules and pointer when it comes to ladder safety. Please don’t hesitate to stop and ask about proper safety procedures when you are unsure.
The OSHA Standard for portable ladders contains specific requirements designed to ensure worker safety-
- Self-supporting (foldout) and non-self-supporting (leaning) portable ladders must be able to support at least four times the maximum intended load, except extra-heavy-duty metal or plastic ladders, which must be able to sustain 3.3 times the maximum intended load. (Figure 1.)
- Non-self-supporting ladders, which must lean against a wall or other support, are to be positioned at such an angle that the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is about 1⁄4 the working length of the ladder. (Figure 2.)
- In the case of job-made wooden ladders, that angle should equal about 1⁄8 the working length. This minimizes the strain of the load on ladder joints that may not be as strong as on commercially manufactured ladders.
- Ladder rungs, cleats, or steps must be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced when the ladder is in position for use. Rungs must be spaced between 10″-14″ inches apart.
- For extension trestle ladders, the spacing must be 8″-18″ inches for the base, and 6″-12″ inches on the extension section.
- Rungs must be so shaped that an employee’s foot cannot slide off, and must be skid-resistant. (Figure 3.)
- Ladders are to be kept free of oil, grease, wet paint, and other slipping hazards.
- Wood ladders must not be coated with any opaque covering, except identification or warning labels on one face only of a side rail.
- Foldout or stepladders must have a metal spreader or locking device to hold the front and back sections in an open position when in use. (Figure 4.)
- The area around the top and bottom of ladder must be kept clear
- Ladders must not be tied or fastened together to provide longer sections, unless they are specifically designed for such use. (Figure 5.)
- Never use a ladder for any purpose other than the one for which it was designed.
This man is improperly using the top rung of this step ladder to work from. (Figure 6.)
When climbing a ladder, it is safest to utilize Three Points-of-Contact because it minimizes the chances of slipping and falling from the ladder. At all times during ascent, descent, and working, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs and/or side rails. In this way, the climber is not likely to become unstable in the event one limb slips during the climb. It is important to note that the climber must not carry any objects in either hand that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder. Otherwise, Three Points-of-Contact with the ladder cannot be adequately maintained and the chance of falling is increased in the event a hand or foot slip occurs.
All content is from OSHA