Ladder Safety on the Job

Falls happen when you lose your balance. Standing on makeshift supports and using ladders incorrectly can cause you to fall. Using the wrong equipment for a task can also increase your chances of being hurt.

Watch for hazards

  • Makeshift supports. Makeshift supports are never quite right for the job. If you stand on top of a trash can or chair instead of a stepstool or ladder, you increase your chances of falling and hurting yourself. You should never make a short ladder taller by putting something under the legs. And you should be careful not to overreach, which can shift your center of gravity and cause you to lose your balance.

  • Incorrect use of ladders. Using equipment incorrectly is a common fall hazard. If you set a ladder too close or too far from a building, you're more likely to fall off of it. Other causes of falls include setting the ladder on loose, uneven ground and using a tall ladder by yourself without securing it. And you should never stand on the top of a stepladder or use an extension ladder that's too short.

Use the right equipment and use it right

  • Find out what you need ahead of time.

  • Follow safety warnings on equipment.

  • Keep yourself centered over your support so you're less likely to lose your balance.

  • Keep your arms and legs as close to your center of gravity as possible (avoid overreaching).

Follow ladder safety rules

  • Inspect the ladder before using it.

  • Use the 1 to 4 rule. The base of the ladder needs to be placed 1 foot out from its support for every 4 feet of ladder length.

  • Set and secure the ladder on stable ground.

  • Have someone hold the base of the ladder.

  • Never use the top rung.

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