“Do not walk under the ladder” is more than just a superstition. It is a safety precaution that people don’t always recognize. As a matter of fact, almost half of all fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder.
The use of ladders has been widely implemented in all sorts of workplaces that involve the need to reach an elevated position. For instance, a librarian may need to use a ladder when getting a book on the highest shelf or a painter needs to use a ladder to paint on the ceiling.
Ladders are a universal tool, but if used carelessly, it can cause severe physical injury to a worker. The Occupational Safety and health Administration (OSHA) enforces rules when it comes to ladder safety and if you violate those rules, in can a serious fine. Most of the OSHA stairs and ladder regulations (1926.1053) are common sense rules, however, there are a few specifics that you may not be familiar with.
Here are some of the less known ladder regulations:
- Ladders shall be inspected by a competent person for visible defects on a periodic basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use. These also must be documented to provide proof that an inspection has occurred.
- Ladders with structural defects, such as, but not limited to, broken or missing rungs, cleats, or steps, broken or split rails, or corroded components, shall be withdrawn from service until repaired. (meaning no slight dents, indents or bumps)
- When the ladder is in position, rungs, cleats and steps must be level, uniformly spaced and in parallel position.
- The requirement to withdraw a defective ladder from service is satisfied if the ladder is marked in a manner that readily identifies it as defective.
- Fixed metal ladders with steps and rungs manufactured after March 15, 1991 must be coated with skid-resistant material, corrugated, knurled or treated to prevent slipping.
- When using a stepladder, a metal spreader or locking device must be in placed to support the front and back sections.
- Ladder components must be surfaced to prevent snagging of clothes and lacerations.
- Wood ladders must not have any opaque covering.
- Fixed ladders exceeding 24 feet in total length must have ladder safety devices, self-retracting lifelines, rest platforms or a cage or well.
- The mounting of fixed ladders must include mountings attached to each end of the rigid carriers with intermediate mountings along the length of the carrier.
- Ladders that are not self-supporting must have an angle of one-quarter of its length for the distance between the top support and the foot.
The proper use of a ladder in the workplace can prevent any ladder-related injurie, which can be severe in some cases.