We take portable ladders for granted because they’re so easy to use; they are often the first tool we choose when working at elevation. This approach is known as “Ladders First,” yet more workers are injured in falls from ladders than from any other elevated surface — roofs, scaffolds, balconies, even stairs.
Why do workers fall from ladders?
Most falls happen because workers select the wrong type of ladder for their job or they set up the ladder improperly and the ladder shifts or slips unexpectedly. Workers also fall when they’re not working safely on the ladder — their foot slips, they lose their balance, they overreach, or something knocks the ladder over. Before choosing a portable ladder, consider a “Ladders Last” approach when other, often safer options, such as scaffolds, aerial lifts, or mobile ladder stands are available.
OSHA’s new guide, Portable Ladders: How to use them so they won’t let you down, provides key practices for selecting and using portable ladders safely; they’re not difficult to understand, but they’re easy to ignore. If you use the right style and type of ladder for your work, if you set it up properly, and if you know how to work safely when you’re on a ladder, you can be fairly confident that it won’t let you down. Click here to learn how to safely use portable ladders.