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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

Ladder Safety At Work

They are so familiar, workers ignore ladder safety. Misuse accounts for tens of thousands of at-work accidents, and 100 deaths or more annually in the U.S.

Here we review the two types of ladders, freestanding and self-supporting, and how employees can be safe using each.

Even though staffers may balk at ladder training, they should be reminded of the correct footwear to use, weather considerations, when to have a person help as spotter, and more.

Maintenance and inspections are required by OSHA, with the interval depending on the frequency of use and the loads carried. Listen here for more on ladder safety.


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Dan Clark:  Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

Every business has a ladder. In the warehouse for high shelf grabbing. At the office to change batteries in the smoke detector. Because they’re so commonplace, workers tend to ignore ladder safety. But this can lead to many accidents.

Ladders are like the family dog. They’re always around, but can bite you if you don’t treat them right.

When you’re ladder shopping, your choices are:

1. A freestanding, lean-against-the-wall style.

2. The self-supporting, four-legs-on-the-floor style.


Choose wisely. Consider the height. Pick ladders that can easily go up to all areas that workers will need to reach. This will stop them from standing on the top steps. They are for structure only, not for standing.

Also, consider strength. OSHA requirements for ladder strength depend on the type of ladder—freestanding or self-supporting. Generally, your ladder must be able to support 3 to 4 times the max load you expect to put on it.

Employees should be trained in the use of ladders. Workers will roll their eyes at this, but a quick run through may make them realize that they’ve missed something, like a spotter, or someone stabilizing the ladder, may be needed. But the spotter should be on the non-climbing side. Slip resistant shoes are a must. Leather sole shoes: not good.

As we mentioned before, top rungs are not for standing on. And, even more obvious warnings should be covered: don’t use ladders in high winds, or when parts are loose or missing.

That brings us to ladder maintenance. OSHA is very vague on inspections…all ladders should have inspections at intervals based on how often and how intensely they are used. Pretty vague. Be smart, check ladders for issues before you use them and do, at least, a monthly inspection.

I’m heading back down the ladder now. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. This is Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. Check out their website at


See OSHA’s document Falling Off Ladders Can Kill

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