Stairways and ladders are significant causes of workers’ accidents and deaths and many of the incidents are severe enough to require time off work. As per the CDC, ladders account for about 20% of fall accidents at the workplace, making them one of the most dangerous things in the company. OSHA regulations refer to all stairs and ladders used in the construction, maintenance, repair, decoration and renovation of work sites protected by OSHA’s health and safety requirements. The main guidelines apply to all ladders and their use as mentioned, including job-made ladders:

  • Rule 1926.1053(b)(13) of OSHA states that the ladder top should never be used as a step.
  • Rule 1053(b)(4)states that ladders shall be used solely for the purpose for which they have been designed.
  • When advancing up and/or down the ladder, each employee shall use at least one hand to grip the ladder, and face the ladder.
  • Faulty ladders, such as damaged or missing rungs, cleats or stairs, broken or fractured frames, corroded parts or other faulty or disabled pieces, shall be promptly marked as damaged or identified as “Do not use” or equivalent and shall be withheld from service before it has been fixed.
  • Ladders shall not be overloaded above its maximum load capacity for which they were built and always consult manufacturer’s guide for reference.
  • Ladders are to be used on sturdy and even surfaces, except when protected against accidental dislocation.
  • Ladders shall not be relocated, transferred, or stretched whilst someone is standing on them.
  • Overweight workers can be at greater risk of injury because it is difficult for them to go up and down the ladder easily while balancing their weight.
  • OSHA’s mandate is to regularly check the ladders and ensure that they are clean from grease, tar, and other contaminants that may cause slipping. Ladders shall be inspected by the qualified person on a regular basis for visible defects and after any incident which may impair their safe usage.
  • OSHA’s rule 1926.1053(b)(18) specifies that the restoration of the ladder must repair the ladder to a state that satisfies the original design criteria before the ladder is recommissioned. If the repair is not satisfactory, the ladder should not be used.
  • OSHA’s safety regulations on ladders include a wide range of ladder height, angle and spacing restrictions. For example, Rule 1926.1053(a)(3)(i-iii) explains that rungs, steps and cleats should be spaced between 10 and 14 inches apart, with few exceptions present. Also, the rules may vary depending on the type of ladder (fixed or portable).

Ladder incidents are preventable from happening. The more the staff is qualified to use the ladder correctly, the more you can reduce risk and build a safer work atmosphere for all.