The OSHA Standard for portable ladders contains specific requirements during use to ensure worker safety. Many of these rules in the workplace are intuitive, but due to time-constraints and cut corners, many workers are injured every year due to failed practices and improper use.
The following ladder safety measures are set by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration), which is the government organization that provides the benchmark for worker safety in the United States. These following safety measures are everything you need to know about ladder safety.
The 4 Core Ladder Safety Elements
Loads – All ladders are engineered for certain load capacities to ensure safety during usage. The higher the ladder, the more safety factors engineered into the product. Self-supporting and leaning portable ladders must be able to support at least four times the maximum intended load. Heavy-duty metal or plastic ladders must be able to hold 3.3 times the maximum intended load.
Angles – This is one of the important safety measures involved with ladder safety because many of the accidents occurring from ladder slip and falls relates to improper usage of angles when placing ladders on climbing structures. Leaning ladders must lean against a wall or member support in a fashion that is safe from tipping or retraction. This distance, as a rule of thumb, is roughly ¼ of the working distance of the ladder in conjunction with the height of the ladder. For example, if the ladder is 12 feet tall, the distance between the foundation of the wall or support to the base of the ladder must be at least 3 feet in distance. For wooden ladders, that distance should be 1/8 of the working distance of the ladder.
Rungs – Ladder rungs or steps should be parallel and uniformly spaced when the ladder is in operation. If the steps are not parallel, the ladder could tip under pressure or with quick movements and suggests that the ladder is not positioned correctly. For extension, especially with leaning ladders, the spacing must be approximately 18 inches for the base and 12 inches for the extension area.
Slipping – Workers should be wearing grip, heavy-duty boots when climbing ladders for traction, and ladders are to be kept free of oil or other slippery adhesives that may cause slipping. Wooden ladders should not be painted, especially covered with opaque coverings. Please ensure the ladder you’re using is free of any slippery agents.
Other Good Advice – Keep areas clear when ladder is in use – this will lower the risk of serious injury during a fall. Ladders must also be locked in position and fastened together when applicable. In addition, never use a ladder for any purpose other than for what it is designed for, including stepping on the top rung or step of the ladder and reaching over for heavy items while suspended in the air. Monthly maintenance and checks on products should be performed to ensure quality of the ladder, particularly looking for corroded screws or steps on the product. Any extension rust or wear on the ladder is grounds for removal and should be replaced.
Matthew Hall is a professional writer who lives in Orlando, Florida. He is a skilled blogger with a keen attention to detail. For more information regarding occupational health and safety, Matthew recommends you visit eCompliance Management Solutions Inc.