Trends in ... ladders

‘Ladder safety is everyone’s job’


OSHA’s standard on ladders (1926.1053) rounded out the top five of the agency’s annual Top 10 list of most cited standards for fiscal year 2020. Violations of the standard totaled 2,129. In FY 2019, the standard drew 2,766 violations.

Safety+Health spoke with Josh Rizzo, director of jobsite safety and security at Werner Co., to learn what workers and employers need to better understand when it comes to using ladders in the workplace, as well as the innovations he’s seeing in the field and what customer concerns he’s hearing.

Safety+Health: What are some recent ladder safety innovations?

Josh Rizzo: There have been recent product innovations that ensure end-user safety, enhanced functionality and productivity. Top-selling ladder product categories include stepladders and extension ladders. However, multifunctional products are also very popular because they integrate various configurations into one ladder, providing value and enhanced productivity.

Recently, there has been an introduction of new multipurpose ladders focused on the most common positions – stepladder, straight ladder and leaning ladder – changing with one easy adjustment. These simplified multiladders offer fewer configurations, making the ladder lighter to move around and allow users to safely lean the ladder, which is a common problem.

S+H: What do you wish employers and workers better understood about using ladders in the workplace? 

Rizzo: A common misconception is that everyone knows how to safely climb a ladder. Climbing ladders is something many of us have been doing for years without formal training. Spending 30 minutes to learn best practices of ladder safety can serve as a reminder to remain vigilant. There are events throughout the year, including National Ladder Safety Month (observed each March) and safety stand-downs, to raise awareness of ladder safety. There are also free online resources that employers can use to train and refresh end users’ knowledge of basic ladder safety. Ladder safety is everyone’s job and is accomplished through training, awareness and vigilance.

S+H: What concerns or questions are customers coming to you with about ladders? What advice do you provide?

Rizzo: We work with safety directors and trade professionals who use ladders daily. Some of the most common questions focus on the differences in ladder types. Ladders, like tools, must be appropriate for each application. The first step in ladder selection is choosing the right style for the job, from a stepladder to an extension ladder – there are a variety of options. Different styles of ladders are designed to keep the user safe when climbing or standing. Using the wrong ladder or simply ignoring the safety instructions of climbing equipment can result in a fall or serious injury.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:

  • Hand protection
  • Spill containment/absorbents

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