OSHA Tip Tuesday: Portable Ladder Safety

Welcome to OSHA Tip Tuesday! Each Tuesday we will be sending out safety tips for you to stay safe and OSHA compliant in the workplace.

Portable Ladder Safety

Did you know that falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury?  Also, falls from portable ladders are responsible for many workplace accidents every year. In fact, they are one of the biggest culprits for workplace injuries.  In keeping with our theme of Brain Injury Awareness for the month of March, here are some tips on how to stay safe while using a portable ladder, whether in your home or at work.

Follow directions! That sticker that says “This is not a step” is there for a reason. Don’t ignore it or any of the other labels on the ladder.
Don’t get zapped! Do not use a metal ladder where there is a risk of electrocution by either overhead wires or exposed wiring or electrical equipment.
How safe is that ladder really? Missing rungs? Cracks? Wear & tear? Inspect the ladder before you use it. Do not use a ladder in disrepair. According to OSHA any ladder in disrepair needs to be tagged until it is repaired or discarded.
Maintain a 3-point touch. Two hands and a foot or two feet and one hand must be in contact with the ladder when climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the step and ALWAYS FACE THE LADDER.
Only use ladders and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers, jacks or hooks) for their designed purposes.
Ladders must be free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps or feet.
Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.
Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface, unless it has been secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement.
Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.
Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support (see diagram). Do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
A ladder placed in any location where it can be displaced by other work activities must be secured to prevent displacement or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder.
Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the ladder’s load rating and of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment.