Next time someone at work asks you to go up a ladder, you may want to think twice. While ladders are essential tools in many trades, around half a million people are injured while using ladders each year, according to The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). They estimate another 300 or so are killed each year in ladder-related accidents.
Employers should provide training on how to use ladders
One of the problems with ladders is people do not take safety seriously enough when using them. If you are about to use a complicated-looking machine, you probably read the instructions first. Yet because ladders are so commonplace in households and workplaces, people might look at you askance if you said you wanted training on how to use one. Nevertheless, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers provide training to anyone using a ladder at work.
How can you use a ladder more safely?
- Check the area is safe: Ladders need careful siting. Ensure they have a stable footing and ensure there are no electrical hazards or other dangers in the immediate area.
- Wear non-slip footwear: Metal-runged ladders can get incredibly slippery in wet weather and ice could build up in winter. Ensure your footwear has adequate grip.
- Maintain three points of contact: Two hands and two feet give a total of four contact points. By moving only one hand or one foot at a time, you maintain three points of contact with the ladder and reduce the risk of a fall.
If all employers took ladder safety seriously, there would be fewer workplace injuries and less need for workers’ compensation insurance. Businesses should provide adequate safety training and ensure any ladders used are in optimal condition.