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Ladder safety for your business

Climb with care and step up to safe ladder practices

A man standing on a ladder preparing to hang ceiling light.

If you run a business, chances are you have a ladder for various tasks. Since they are a common tool, it’s easy to forget how dangerous they can be. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, every year 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries. In a business setting, ladder accidents can lead to injuries.

Choose the right ladder for the job

The correct ladder for a task will have a duty rating or maximum load that exceeds the total weight of the climber and any tools that will be carried. Make sure it’s tall enough too. An extension ladder or straight ladder should extend at least three feet above the upper point of support.

Avoid sitting or standing on the uppermost rungs, as this can lead to loss of balance. Follow safety guidelines, staying below specific rungs based on the ladder type.

Set it up on solid ground

Whether it’s a step ladder, folding ladder, or straight ladder, they should always be placed on a firm, solid surface. Take care to avoid slippery, wet, or soft surfaces as this can increase your chances for slips and falls.

If you’re using a straight ladder, it should be positioned at an approximate 75-degree angle. To see if you have the proper positioning, stand up straight with your toes touching the feet of the ladder as it leans away from you. Extend your arms in front of you. If it is set correctly, your palms should touch the top of the rung at your shoulder level.

Maintain three points of contact

When climbing, maintain three points of contact at all times (two hands/one foot, or two feet/one hand). This means you shouldn’t carry anything that prevents you from grasping the ladder securely. Carry tools on your belt or bring them up with a tow rope.

While using a ladder, keep your body centered between the rails. Don’t lean and reach. Never try to move a ladder while standing on it. Climb down and reposition the ladder closer to where you are working.

Other ladder safety tips:

  • Never place a ladder in front of a door, unless that door is blocked open, locked, and/or guarded
  • Inspect the ladder before use, and avoid using it if there are loose or missing parts
  • Refrain from using ladders in adverse weather conditions or near power lines

For more ladder safety tips, visit National Ladder Safety Month, and use our Ladder Safety Talk to help train and remind your employees on these safety practices.

You can find even more safety resources, tools, and tips for your business or farm on our risk management resources page.

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