Ladders are standard equipment on most construction sites. Unfortunately, hazards from misusing ladders commonly occur, resulting in a surprisingly high accident rate. Ladder-related hazards are also a prime Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) target and one of the most frequently cited violations, yet ladder safety is often overlooked. Follow these basic ladder safety training elements to prevent hazards:
- Ladder Selection- Tell workers to choose ladders based on the weight load limit, extension length and type of ladder (i.e., workers should avoid metal ladders if they might have contact with electricity).
- Maintenance and Inspection- Require workers to inspect ladders before use, and check for cracks in rungs or side rails; missing or weakened rungs; damaged tie rods; mud, grease or oil on rungs or side rails; and damaged welds or loose screws on metal ladders.
- Carrying and Moving Ladders- Instruct workers to ask for help when carrying heavy or extra long ladders, check the area for overhead power lines or other obstacles before moving ladders, and carry ladders horizontally, not vertically.
- Ladder Setup- Train workers to set up ladders at a 4:1 angle, anchor the base firmly on a solid surface, keep ladder rungs horizontal, make sure the top of the ladder extends at least 3 feet beyond the roof edge or support point, and keep both side rails resting firmly against the roof edge or support point.
- Climbing- Teach workers to maintain three points of contact (hands and feet) with the ladder when climbing, hold the side rails rather than the rungs, carry tools in a tool belt, avoid extending too far left or right from the center of the ladder, and allow only one person to climb one at a time.
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