Many hundreds of serious injuries and a handful of deaths occur in Washington state each year due to workers falling off ladders. Ladder violations are frequently cited in Washington state, with 264 employers cited for $530,000 in fines over the past year. The holidays are an especially perilous time, as workers who may not be trained in ladder safety are charged with completing tasks at height. Washington L&I provides 10 tips for ladder safety this holiday season:
1. Carefully inspect the ladder for defects, checking for cracks, corrosion and that bolts and rivets are secure. Tag and remove unsafe ladders from service.
2. Make sure the ladder’s feet work properly and have slip-resistant pads.
3. Use a fiberglass ladder if there is any chance of contact with electricity.
4. When setting the ladder, look for a safe location with firm, level footing and rigid support for the top of the ladder. Be sure to set it at an angle per the manufacturer’s guidance.
5. When climbing off a ladder at an upper level, make sure the ladder extends 3 feet above the landing.
6. When climbing the ladder, use 3 points of contact – keep one hand and both feet or both hands and one foot in contact with the ladder at all times.
7. Never carry any load that could cause you to lose balance.
8. Never stand on top of a ladder.
9. Don’t pull, lean, stretch or make sudden moves on a ladder that could cause it to tip over. A scaffold or other safe working surface may be a better choice for your task.
10. Avoid setting the ladder near exit doors, near the path of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.