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In Construction, What Is Ladder Safety?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2016
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Knowledge of ladder safety measures has become more important as the number of injuries from construction ladder accidents has increased. In the United States, over a 16-year period that ended in 2005, one study found that more than two million patients in emergency rooms were there because of injuries sustained in ladder accidents. In Canada, 300 people die per year in similar ladder accidents, while about 100,000 people are hurt badly enough to need medical treatment. Because of the number of injuries related to ladder accidents, safety experts believe that employers and employees alike would benefit from increased awareness of ladder safety, including correct placement, use and maintenance steps.

According to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 66 percent of injuries are incurred by workers who were not provided adequate ladder safety training. The training includes the most appropriate ways to place and use the ladder and related equipment, and also specific maintenance steps such as how to inspect the equipment to make sure it is in good working order. OSHA ladder safety also sets standards for the correct way to securely brace a ladder. Safety regulations also are in place that designate how far apart a ladder’s rungs should be, as well as the distance between the erect sides. OSHA also recommends specific shapes for rungs and also types of rung coatings to prevent workers from slipping.

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No matter how ladder accidents occur, the end result is often permanent injury. A lack of ladder safety knowledge has frequently resulted in falls with most injuries occurring to the lower extremities. Experts say safety measures are also important for a person who is working on the ground below a ladder because injuries have occurred as a result of falling items.

In movies, it can seem funny when someone is blindsided and knocked down by a ladder being carried by a coworker, but in real life this type of accident can have serious medical consequences. Other types of accidents that can be prevented by ladder safety training are run-ins with overhead power lines and tripping over inappropriately placed ladders. The association recommends that employers should adopt ladder safety policies that include proper usage, maintenance and removal. Such policies would go a long way toward the reduction of ladder accidents and ladder deaths, safety experts say.

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Drentel
Post 3

I would guess that most people do things with ladders that they know are not safe, but they think they won't get injured. I certainly do. I have a friend who climbed a ladder and stood on it while he cut limbs from a tree in his yard. He was using a chainsaw to cut the limbs. This is not exactly using common sense, but people take chances like this and that's why so many accidents involving ladders happen.

Feryll
Post 2

@mobilian33 - I understand what you are saying about the need to use common sense when you are using a ladder, but I think there are also some things that you don't realize you are doing wrong when you are working with a ladder.

Until recently I had very little experience climbing a ladder. My mother always made us stay off of them when I was a kid. She was afraid we would fall off and get hurt.

Lately I have been using the ladder to go on the roof of our house to do a number of repairs and maintenance jobs. One of the first things I did when I got to the top of the ladder is

I reached out to grab something off of the roof without thinking that I should get off of the ladder first.

Also, I had to figure out the best way to get off and onto the ladder from the roof. These things seem simple when you're on the ground, but not so simple when you're 15 to 20 feet in the air. I definitely could use some ladder safety training.

mobilian33
Post 1

The best ladder safety is common sense. I say this because the average person using a ladder around the house is not going to take a course in ladder safety, so whoever is using a ladder needs to use common sense and use the tool the way it was meant to be used.

Unless you are physically in a condition that you shouldn't be climbing a ladder, when you use the ladder the proper way you are not likely to fall off or get injured.

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