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Ladder Safety Toolbox Talk

Use this toolbox talk to brief your crews on proper ladder safety on the jobsite.

Ladder Safety Talk

Ladders are so commonly used on construction sites, it’s easy to forget they pose a threat. Ladders are responsible for a significant number of accidents both on and off the job each year. It's important to exercise extreme caution while using a ladder, as a fall from a ladder can lead to serious injury and even death. In this toolbox talk, we’ll discuss ladder injuries, common causes of ladder falls, and ladder safety tips.

Ladder Injury Statistics

You may look at a ladder as being a very simple and harmless piece of equipment, but don’t be fooled–falls from ladders are the leading cause of deaths on construction sites. That’s because any time you are working off the ground on a ladder, you are at risk of falling and injuring yourself.

According to the World Health Organization, falls from ladders result in more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. each year. The United States actually leads the world in ladder deaths.

Even more shocking is that most ladder deaths are from falls of 10 feet or less. That means even when you’re using a simple stepladder on the jobsite, proper ladder safety is pertinent.

Common Causes of Ladder Falls

There are a number of reports made every year that compile ladder accident statistics. From these reports, we are able to narrow down some common causes of ladder falls:

1. Neglecting to Inspect Ladder Prior to Use

It is very important to perform a proper ladder inspection before you use a ladder on the jobsite. Weather and usage can take a toll on ladders over time and cause damage that leads to accidents. If a ladder has cracks, broken rungs, loose bolts, or is in need of repair, you shouldn’t use it.

2. Unsafe Actions When Using Ladders

It is important to follow safe work practices when using a ladder on the jobsite. Too often, workers are participating in unsafe acts which lead to injury. Actions that fall under this list include: standing on the top step of a ladder, climbing a ladder while carrying objects, and leaning to reach something. All of these unsafe actions can result in ladder falls.

3. Not Using the Correct Ladder

It may seem easier to you to use the same ladder for every job, but make no mistake–not all ladders are created equal. You should always make sure that the ladder you are using, whether a step ladder, a-frame ladder, or extension ladder, is the right one for the job that you are doing. A ladder that is too short for a job, a ladder not stable on the ground, or a ladder not rated for the job you’re doing can result in someone getting hurt.

Construction worker using a ladder safely on a jobsite.

Ladder Safety Tips

  • Ensure you understand the safety hazards of using a ladder

  • Choose the correct ladder for the job. Know the different uses for a stepladder, an extension ladder, and an articulating ladder

  • Perform an inspection of your ladder before use. If a ladder is damaged remove it from service and identify it with a "Do Not Use" tag.

  • Ensure the ladder is firm and level on the ground. You can also have someone spotting you at the bottom and holding on to the ladder ensuring it stays put.

  • Always face the ladder when climbing up and down.

  • Maintain three points of contact while climbing up or down (two hands and one foot, or both feet and one hand).

  • Wear slip-resistant footwear.

  • Use a tool belt or a pulley system for carrying tools and materials up/down the ladder. Never carry objects up with you.

  • Don’t overload the ladder. Make sure you consider the worker weight as well as the equipment/materials weight and don’t exceed the rated limit.

  • Avoid reaching or leaning to one side. If the job is out of reach of the ladder, reposition the ladder.

  • Never stand on the top step of the ladder.

  • Do not try to move a ladder while standing on the rungs.

  • Remove all tools and materials from the ladder before moving.

Ladder Safety Starts With You

Ladder safety is one of the most fundamental safety talks that you need to know and remember. The next time you use a ladder on the jobsite, ensure you understand the hazards, exercise caution, and make safe decisions. It just may save your life.

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