Falls from ladders account for approximately 20,000 injuries and 300 deaths each year in the United States, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The American Ladder Institute (ALI) advises that when climbing a ladder, maintaining three points of contact minimizes the chances of slipping and falling. At all times during ascent, descent and while working, the climber must face the ladder and have either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs and/or side rails.
Haste, sudden movement, lack of attention, the condition of the ladder (worn or damaged), the user’s age and/or physical condition and the user’s footwear all contribute to ladder falls. ALI offers these tips for reducing the chance of falling:
Wear slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles to prevent foot fatigue.
- Clean the soles of shoes to maximize traction.
- Use towlines, a tool belt or an assistant to convey materials so that the climber’s hands are free when climbing.
- Climb slowly and deliberately, avoiding sudden movements.
- Never attempt to move a ladder while standing on it.
- Keep the center of your belt buckle (stomach) between the ladder side rails when climbing and while working. Do not overreach or lean.
The American Ladder Institute offers a variety of free ladder safety training modules. You can access these modules at www.laddersafetytraining.org.