While many people view a ladder as a simple tool to help with jobs like painting and construction, over 500,000 people in the U.S. are treated for ladder-related injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Even more frightening is the fact that at least 300 people die each year from these injuries. Many ladder injuries occur at work, and many are preventable with proper work conditions, equipment and safety instructions. Without providing these conditions, employers who require employees to use ladders are in violation of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requirements.
The OSHA guidelines for safe ladder usage are:
- Inspect every ladder before EVERY use;
- Ladders with structural defects may not be used and must be tagged with "Do Not Use" and withdrawn from the working pool;
- Ladders must be carried parallel to the ground and tied down for transportation.
- Ladders should be kept free of oil, grease and other hazards;
- Ladders should never be weighted beyond their maximum intended load;
- Workers should only use ladder for the purpose for which they were designed (refer to manufacturer's labeling and recommendations);
- Traffic areas in the vicinity of ladder use should be blocked off. Doorways leading to the ladder work area should be locked, barricaded or guarded;
- The area around the top and bottom of the ladder must be kept clear. The ladder should never be moved, shifted or extended while occupied;
- A ladder should never be 'walked';
- Only non-conductive side rails should be used when working near live electrical equipment;
- The top or top step of the ladder is not for standing or stepping.
- You should not stand on cross bracing;
- Workers should always face the ladder when ascending or descending;
- Always maintain three points of contact with the ladder (two feet/one hand or two hands/one foot should be in contact with ladder at all times);
- Tools should be carried in pouches around the waist, or a rope should be employed to raise or lower large items like tool boxes;
- Workers should be careful not to lean too far away from the ladder; they should employ the 'belt buckle rule': keep belt buckles positioned between the side rails to maintain the center of gravity;
- Never allow more than one worker on the ladder at a time; and
- Wear protective clothing and rubber-soled shoes.
If you have been injured on a ladder at a work site that did not adhere to the above rules, the personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Itkin may be able to help you receive compensation for your injuries. Contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation.