Let’s Talk Ladders

Written by: Victor Santomartino

As a person who has worked in construction for over 29 years, I’ve seen many ladders on construction sites. For the most part, when I looked at them, I never saw them as a dangerous. As time went on, I realized just how dangerous ladders can be. I took a closer look at ladder accidents and I was surprised to find that 90,000 people a year had ladder related injuries that lead to emergency room visits, and 700 of these are fatalities that happen at the workplace. To me, that’s a lot of accidents and way too many deaths. So let’s take a moment and talk about some ladder safety.

Using the Ladders Wrong

Have you ever stood on the top of a step ladder or used the top as a stool while you worked? Many of us would say yes, but we can get hurt or even die from falling off a ladder. How about when the work is close to a wall and you can’t reach, so you close the ladder and lean it against the wall? Many injuries have happened because the ladder slips. Let’s face it… we just don’t take the time to think it could happen to us. What about climbing an extension ladder? We should be pulling our tools up with a tag line, but instead we “one-hand” it.

The Worn or Damaged Ladder

On many sites I see damaged ladders with broken or bent rungs, or even split rails. Ladders with any damage should not be used. If you are given a job to complete, be sure to inspect your ladder for any damage before use. In the end, it’s not worth the risk of injury.

FIGURE. Percentage of ladder fall fatalities* and nonfatal ladder fall injuries treated in emergency departments, by fall height (when documented) — United States, 2011

**Chart can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6316a2.htm


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