Ladder Safety

Ladder Safety 101                                           

This is the time of year when districts are using ladders to attend to all kinds of tasks, from changing lightbulbs in classrooms to hanging decorations and displaying student art. These activities are surprisingly dangerous, as they generally involve going up and down ladders and, in this regard, risking injuries due to falling.  In fact, falls remain the leading cause of injuries and deaths nationwide, with 43% percent of all fatal falls in the last decade involving ladder use, while more than 630,000 people are treated annually for ladder-related injuries (CDC).  And, as an unfortunate case in point, since July of this year, we have already received six claims associated with employees falling from ladders, resulting in two individuals spending significant time in the hospital. 

Fortunately, most ladder accidents are preventable. What’s needed is a change in employee understanding and, most importantly, employee behavior. This is because accidents generally involve individuals ignoring safety precautions and taking unnecessary risks in an attempt to complete tasks quickly. Ensuring through education and training adherence to some of these best practices and safety habits will help significantly reduce the number and severity of injuries:

  • Be sure the ladders being used are in good working condition. 
  • Place the ladder on a solid, stable footing and ensure that the base is at a 3:1 ratio with the extended height.
  • Tie off ladders prior to use to ensure they do not fall or move.
  • Position ladders prior to use in a manner that reduces the need to reach out away from them; also, instruct users not lean so far that their belt buckle goes past the ladder rungs. 
  • Tie off the user if s/he is working at a height of six feet or higher.
  • When using rung ladders to gain access to elevated platforms,  roofs, etc., extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the elevated surface.
  • Never use metal or aluminum ladders when working with or around electricity, including when changing light bulbs. 
  • Never tie ladders together to extend the height.
  • Never use step ladders as straight ladders. 
  • Always use proper ladders and step stools. 
  • Finally, and most importantly, do not stand on chairs or other makeshift equipment in lieu of using a ladder. Return to newsletter.