Fall Prevention and Fall Protection Requirements
Ladders vary greatly in both design and construction. Safety is the one thing they all have in common. A strong ladder safety program should incorporate the following elements:
- TRAINING. Train workers on which ladder is right for the job. Ladders are made of a variety of materials (wood, fiberglass, metal) and range from a small step stool to a large platform. Part of the job analysis process is identifying the correct tools for the job in advance – ladders included.
- MAINTENANCE. Routine inspection of ladders is recommended to assure stability at all times. If the structural integrity of a ladder is ever compromised, it should be removed from service immediately. Ladders should be viewed daily for loose or missing rivets, broken steps, or other damage. A more thorough inspection should be conducted on a monthly basis as part of routine facility maintenance.
- SETUP. Stability matters. Ladders should always be set on stable ground. If a ladder is being used on sloped ground, it should have a tripod stabilizer pole, and there should be a spotter on the ground with the worker at all times. The ladder should be secured at the top with hooks or a ladder stabilizer to prevent the top of the ladder from pushing away from the structure you are climbing.
- FALL PREVENTION. Train workers on how to safely ascend and descend the ladder. That starts with maintaining a center of gravity when climbing and includes 3-point contact, non-slip shoes with a defined heel, and hands-free climbing. A large number of falls occur each year due to workers carrying tools in one hand and not maintaining proper contact and balance. Workers should not over-reach and should not stand on the top step of a ladder.
- FALL PROTECTION. Fall protection harnesses are generally not required when using portable ladders, but definitely apply when climbing fixed/stationary ladders of 24′ or more in height. There are times, however, that harnesses may be warranted. For example, climbing ladder up the side of a building near an open trench. This scenario may be rare, but illustrates the importance of knowing your surroundings and utilizing the proper protective equipment for the job.
And, while it appears to go without saying, please reinforce the concept of ONE worker per ladder. Injuries caused by more than one person on a ladder are reported each year. The number is not necessarily high, but the injuries caused from these falls tend to be severe.
To learn more about ladder safety, visit OSHA 29 CFR.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact our Kansas City commercial risk management firm or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.