OSEA Safety Blog

National Ladder Safety Month: Climbing with Confidence

Thursday, March 21, 2024 John Coniglio

According to the World Health Organization, the United States leads the world in ladder deaths. Each year, there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. that are caused by falls from ladders. Most fatalities from ladders occur at 11 feet or lower. In response to these alarming statistics, National Ladder Safety Month was established to raise awareness about ladder safety practices and promote safe climbing habits. Observed annually throughout March, this initiative aims to educate individuals about the importance of using ladders correctly to prevent accidents and injuries. This article addresses the do’s and don’ts of ladder use, as well as tips on ladder inspections.

Ladder Do’s:

  • Select a ladder that is the correct length and weight capacity for the required job.
  • Inspect ladders before use.
  • Keep metal parts lubricated.
  • Ensure there are no splinters or sharp edges.
  • Store ladders in dry, well-ventilated areas with moderate temperatures.
  • Store ladders either vertically or horizontally with supports at each end and in the middle.
  • Set up ladders on a firm level surface.
  • Set ladder feet parallel to the surface it rests against.
  • Anchor the ladder top.
  • Have the ladder bottom tied or held.
  • Extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the top support.
  • Angle the ladder so the distance from the bottom to the wall equals ¼ the ladder’s working length.
  • Position an extension ladder before extending it.
  • Wear shoes that are clean with nonskid soles.
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down and use both hands.
  • Carry tools up with a rope, belt, etc.
  • Keep one hand on the ladder while working and stay between the side rails while working.

Ladder Don’ts:

  • Use a ladder for any other purpose than what it was designed to do.
  • Use boxes or chains or anything else in place of a ladder.
  • Use a metal ladder near live electric wires.
  • Rest a ladder on a window or window sash.
  • Allow more than one person on a ladder.
  • Move a ladder while you’re on it.
  • Climb ladders if you’re afraid of heights or tend toward fainting or dizziness.

Ladder Inspections:

  • Inspect ladders frequently before each use and document thorough inspection monthly that covers the below items.
    • Inspect the top for cracks or dents.
    • Inspect all side rails for cracks, dents, bends, or any other blemishes.
    • Ensure that all fasteners are present and tight.
    • Ensure that all safety feet are tight and rubber foot pads are present, tight, and free of wear.
    • Ensure spreader arms move freely and lock properly, and that the spreader to rail connections are tight.
    • Ensure that all steps, horizontal and step braces are present, free of bends, and tight.
    • Inspect pail tray (if equipped) to see that it moves freely, sets up properly, and that all connections are tight.
    • Follow additional manufacturer’s guidelines for inspection.




Work Safe. Work Smart. Work with OSEA. Start Now