One of the most dangerous tools on a construction site is a ladder. Falls from ladders lead to broken bones, serious internal injuries, and even death. OSHA recommends that you train each member on the construction site in the proper selection and use of a ladder.

Watch Your Step:

Many types of ladders are available, and each is designed for a specific type of work. There are step-ladders made for commercial and household use, extension ladders to reach high elevations, and rolling ladders for warehouse use. Ladders can be constructed of wood, metal, or fiberglass. A non-conductive ladder should be used on a construction site.

Choose Your Weapon:

Select the ladder that is right for the job. It should be the correct style and length. If you need to stretch to reach the work, then the ladder is too short. Never use a metal ladder if there is a chance of coming in contact with electricity.

Inspect the Ladder Prior to Use:

Never use a damaged ladder. Inspect the ladder prior to each use; never assume that the ladder is in good working condition. Check for cracks, damaged or missing parts, and corrosion. Make certain the ladder is clean and not slippery from an oil spill or other debris. If it is damaged, don’t use it; throw it in the trash.

Properly Set Up the Ladder:

A step ladder must be locked in the full open position. Never attempt to climb a stepladder that is partially collapsed.

Raising an extension ladder is a 2 man job. Lower the ladder before you attempt to move it to a new location. Extend the ladder 3 FT above the roof or working surface and tie the ladder off at the top.

Use the 4 to 1 rule when erecting an extension ladder. For every 4 FT of elevation, the base should be 1 FT from the wall.

Never lean the ladder against an unstable surface such as a stack of boxes. Never locate the ladder in front of an access door.

Work Safely:

Never sit or stand on the top 2 rungs of a step ladder. The ladder will become unstable, and you could easily fall.

Do not carry tools or equipment up a ladder. Use a rope to hoist tools to your location once you reach the top.

Never move a ladder when someone is standing on it.

Keep yourself centered on the ladder at all times. A good tip is to keep your belt between the rails at all times. Never lean to the side; get down and relocate the ladder.