NSC expo
Subscribe or Register
View Cart  

Earn recertification points from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals by taking a quiz about this issue.

What's Your Opinion?

What’s the most effective method for OSHA to help ensure worker safety?

Take the poll and add your comment.

Vote Results
Safety Tips | Fall protection

Minimizing the risk of ladder falls

March 1, 2009

  • / Print
  • Reprints
  • Text Size:
    A A

Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal, unintentional injuries, affecting nearly 8 million individuals in 2005, according to the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts.” Many of these falls involve ladders. Because a ladder is considered a basic tool, some people may discount the dangerous nature of them. However, if proper safety precautions are not taken, ladder users can easily fall and suffer serious injuries or even death.

According to the Chicago-based American Ladder Institute, the safest way to climb a ladder to avoid slips or falls is to maintain three points of contact. This means that during both ascent and descent, a climber should have either a hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot, in contact with the ladder at all times. This way, if one hand or foot slips, the climber will still be secure.

The following tips can also help minimize the risk of a fall:

  • Unless the ladder is specifically designed for such a purpose, do not allow more than one climber on a ladder at one time.
  • Never jump or slide down a ladder more than one rung at a time.
  • Regularly clean the soles of shoes to maximize traction.
  • Use towlines, a tool belt or an assistant to supply materials and tools.
  • Climb ladders slowly and deliberately, avoiding sudden movements.
  • Climbers should keep the center of the stomach between the ladder side rails when climbing. Do not overreach or lean to the side while working, as this could cause the ladder to tip.

For additional ladder safety tips, visit American Ladder Institute.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy.