Why are ladder inspections important in construction?
Frequent ladder inspections are important because they prevent slips, falls, and other common causes of injury on construction sites.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are thousands of injuries related to ladder use in construction each year. Inspections reinforce safety guidelines and help field crews identify potential ladder hazards before they lead to accidents.
What are the most common ladder accidents?
By far, the most common ladder accidents are falls. Workers may slip and fall from a ladder, or the entire ladder may fall while an employee is using it.
However, other types of accidents may result from the improper use of ladders. For example, workers may be struck by falling ladders or struck by objects that fall or are dropped.
How to conduct a ladder inspection
When conducting a ladder inspection, a safety manager will review both the jobsite and equipment.
Thorough ladder inspections cover:
Height requirements - Is the ladder being used tall enough for the task following all recommended safety procedures?
Equipment status - Is the ladder and any other equipment being used in good working condition?
Potential hazards - Are there any physical obstructions in the work area? Is the ground stable? Is inclement weather a concern? Are any other tasks in progress that may affect the workspace?
Alternate access options - Is there a safer way to complete this work?
If any potential hazards are identified during the ladder inspection, work must pause until the issues are resolved or corrected.
How often should ladder inspections be conducted?
A ladder inspection should be conducted before any work requiring the use of a ladder is completed.
Then, as work progresses, the jobsite must be continuously monitored to make sure there are no changes and that all workers are using ladders safely.
Common ladder hazards
These are the most common hazards to keep top of mind when working with ladders:
Misuse of the ladder
Failure to maintain three points of contact
Uneven or unstable ground
Missed steps/rungs while climbing
Using an inadequate height ladders
Using the wrong type of ladder
Ladder wear and tear
6 rules of ladder safety
Follow these steps to make sure you’re following proper ladder safety procedures.
1. Maintain three points of contact.
You should always have three points of contact with the ladder when using it. This means you should keep one hand and both feet on the ladder—or one foot and both hands—at all times.
2. Avoid overloading the ladder.
Make sure you understand the ladder’s weight capacity. Never exceed this limit.
Use a pulley system if possible to transfer equipment up and down the ladder instead of carrying it as you climb.
3. Always face the ladder when climbing or descending.
Facing the ladder when climbing or descending keeps the ladder more stable and secure.
4. Do not stand on the top step.
It is extremely difficult to maintain balance on the top step of any ladder.
5. Wear the proper footwear and safety gear.
No-slip footwear is essential for ladder work.
6. Remove all objects from the ladder before moving it.
Prevent injuries from being struck by making sure the ladder is clear of equipment and debris before moving it.