When you work in construction, your boss may ask you to climb a ladder at some point. They might not tell you ladders are one of the most dangerous ways to work above the ground.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that 15% of workplace deaths result from ladder falls. Many more people suffer fractures or other injuries when they fall from them.
Ladders can be safe when used correctly
Most workers who use ladders on a construction site come back safely. OSHA believes that everyone could if employers did two things properly:
- Provide adequate training
- Provide suitable equipment
Employers must ensure anyone they ask to climb a ladder knows how to do it safely. Training should include how to set ladders and what hazards to look out for. It should cover safely carrying, extending, securing and retracting the ladder and how to climb and descend it.
Ladders can get worn or broken with use, so regular checks are essential to ensure it is still OK to use. Having suitable equipment also means an appropriate way to carry tools or items you need. If you hold things in your hand while climbing, you cannot hold on properly.
There are often safer ways to work at height
When your employer asks you to climb a ladder, consider why. Construction sites are full of scaffolds and other ways of working above ground. While it might take longer to set them up, if you fall from a ladder and are injured, you may wish you had taken the time to do so. Workers’ compensation insurance can help cover the money you lose due to an accident, but it can never replace the time you lose.