Falls from ladders, whether they be step ladders, extension ladders, articulating ladders, straight ladders, combination ladders, or even step stools) are one of the leading causes of injuries. Some accidents can be avoided by periodically inspecting your ladder for wear or damage.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is an agency of the U.S. government under the Department of Labor. Their responsibility is to ensure safety at work and a healthful work environment. They are on a mission to prevent work-related injuries. As part of this mission, they regulate and set guidelines for the use of ladders in the work environment. They offer some common-sense guidelines for using and working around ladders that we all should adhere to.
ANSI (American National Standards Institute) is a private, non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment system. They, like OSHA, offer common sense guidelines for working with and around ladders. Once again, we all could benefit of adhering to their advice.
Both organizations recommend doing periodic ladder inspections. Ladders must be inspected regularly to ensure that they are in safe condition. So how often should the ladder be inspected and by whom? – By the user each time before they use the ladder, or by someone carrying out a formal inspection every 3 to 6 months.
General Ladder Selection
Make sure you are using the right type of ladder for the task. For instance, do not lean a stepladder up against a wall to reach heights beyond the ladder top, nor should a stepladder be opened vertically and used as a straight ladder.
Two people should not occupy or climb the ladder at the same time unless the ladder was designed for this purpose as in the case of a double-sided stepladder.
Use only ladders that reach the height necessary to perform the work, made of the right material, and designed for the specific manner you intend to use it for.
Use only non-conductive fiberglass ladders if working around electrical wires or power lines. Aluminum ladders and even the metal parts on a wooden ladder could pose an electrical hazard when working around electrically charged components.
Before each use, inspect the ladder for any damage or defect that might affect the safe use. Check all joints, brackets, hinges, locks, rungs, treads, feet, wheels or other connected parts to ensure they are in good working condition.
Ensure the ladder rungs and rails are clean and clear of any grease, oil, mud, or debris that would pose a slipping hazard to the user.
Inspect the area or footing of the ladder before climbing on it. Make sure the ladder is level and has a solid footing.
Ladder Load Capacities
Check the maximum load the ladder can support. This information is usually stated on the duty rating stickers typically located on the side of the ladder. This is one of the standards set by OSHA and ANSI during the ladder design and manufacturing process. The maximum load (in other words, the maximum weight limit) is the total combined weight of the user plus the weight of any tools or parts being held by the user while working or climbing on the ladder.
Ladder weight limits are sometimes referred to as light-duty, medium duty, heavy duty, extra heavy duty, or special duty. Safety standards require a Duty Rating stickers to be placed on the side of every ladder. There is no correlation between the ladder length and weight capacity. So do not assume that a ladder with longer reach has a higher weight capacity.
|Type III (Light Duty)||200 pounds|
|Type II (Medium Duty)||225 pounds|
|Type l (Heavy Duty)||250 pounds|
|Type lA (Extra Heavy Duty)||300 pounds|
|Type lAA (Extra Heavy Duty)||375 pounds|
For more information about duty ratings, please read our article “What are Ladder Duty Ratings and Ladder Load Capacities?”
Work Area Inspection
Inspect the work area where you will be setting up and using the ladder. Look for any overhead hazards such as power lines or obstructions such as lights, shelves or racks.
Make sure that clutter is removed from around the ladder. Remove anything that could pose a slip or trip hazard around the ladder area. Make sure the surface the ladder will be setup on is clean and dry.
Inspect the traffic pattern in and around the area where you will be placing and using the ladder. If the ladder must be used in high traffic areas, barricade a large area around the ladder to prevent clashes with the ladder that could cause someone to fall or make the ladder unstable. Lock any doors directly in the path of the ladder to prevent collisions with the ladder.
Make sure that all employees or workers using the ladders have received training on the proper use of the ladder, correct ladder setup, maximum ladder load capacities, and general maintenance. It is also a good idea to give them some of the ladder guidelines provided free of charge by OSHA and ANSI.
|About Sunset Ladder & Scaffold
Sunset Ladder and Scaffold rents and sells the safest and highest quality ladders, scaffolding and related products available since 1929. We rent and sell ALL types of ladders and scaffolding that the industry offers including our own American-made Sunset Ladder Co and EZ Lift brands.