Episode 1 – Falls and Ladders


Toolbox Talk Topic: Ladder Safety


According to OSHA 1910.21(b), A ladder means a device with rungs, steps, or cleats used to gain access to a different elevation. In layman’s terms, a ladder is a set of steps with a pole on each side. The purpose of a ladder is to reach high places safely.



According to National Geographic, scientists in Spain found drawings of ladders that date back more than 64,000 years! The ladder is also mentioned in the Bible – remember Sunday school. Jacob had a dream, and in that dream, he saw a ladder reaching from Heaven. There are different types of ladders. There are rope ladders for gym activities or ladders that are thrown from a helicopter in a rescue attempt. Fire engines have extendable ladders. There are fixed ladders on the sides of boats. But what about the modern A-frame ladder? In 1862 John H Basely of Dayton, OH, invented the step ladder. He designed it with hinges so that it could be folded and put away!



How have people died on ladders? It’s easy to fall off a ladder, and it’s also deadly. A study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) found falls remain a leading cause of deaths nationwide. According to one study, companies with the fewest employees had the highest fatality rates. The industries with the most falls from ladders: construction and mining occupations, only followed by installation, maintenance, and repair. That same study shows that nearly half of fatal falls involved a ladder. Forty-three percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder. Among construction workers, approximately 81 percent of fall injuries treated in emergency rooms involved a ladder.


Safety Tips

Proper Use and Inspections

A ladder should always be used for the purposes for which it was designed. So don’t use that A-frame ladder as an extension ladder – in other words, don’t lean an A-frame ladder up against the wall. Inspect your ladder before use and remove it out of service if any defects are found. Is it cracked, warped, bent? TAKE IT OUT OF SERVICE. Make sure all four feet are set on a level and stable surface, and the ladder is fully extended and locked into place.


Metal Ladders and Electricity

Never use a metal ladder when working near energized electrical equipment. Always stay at least 10 feet away from energized electrical conductors.


Three Points of Contact

Remember 3 points of contact! Two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand at all times. Make sure at least one hand has a firm grasp on a rung or side rail when climbing or descending. Never carry objects that keep you from firmly grasping the ladder or could cause you to lose your balance.


Reposition The Ladder

Reposition the ladder instead of overreaching Have you ever known someone to grab both sides of the ladder and wiggle it, hop or scooch? They may think they will save like 10 seconds because they don’t have to get down the ladder, move it two feet, and then climb a few steps back up. Remember, REPOSITION THE LADDER INSTEAD OF OVERREACHING! Maintain balance by staying centered on the ladder. Keep your belt buckle between the two side rails as a point of reference.


Items on the Top Cap & Manufactures Warning Stickers

Never set anything on the top cap or any step of your ladder. It could fall and strike someone. So, in other words, Don’t leave that hammer on the top cap; it could fall and kill your coworker. Also, Never stand on the top cap of the ladder or the top step. Follow the manufacturer’s rules and warning stickers. Think about these as hints because someone somewhere probably did that thing, so that’s why the warning label is there! Following these tips can protect you from accidents, injuries, and even death.

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