Ladder safety tips you should know

Ladder safety tips

Improper ladder usage can be dangerous and lead to accidents, injuries or worse. Many employers either neglect the safety of this critical job function or simply don’t know how best to promote ladder safety.

Fortunately, ensuring ladder safety is simpler than many employers might think. Companies can use several straightforward ladder safety tips to institute an organizational culture that prioritizes workplace safety and promotes proper on-the-job ladder usage to help mitigate the risk of accident or injury.

Employees don’t have to do this alone. Our team of safety experts at FFVA Mutual provides a range of in-person, on-demand and virtual safety courses covering numerous ladder safety topics.

Tips for Safe Ladder Use

The most common ladder safety hazards

Falls, instability and electrical shock are among the most common safety hazards associated with ladders, according to the National Ag Safety Database. There are several unsafe ways employees use ladders that could increase the likelihood of one of these incidents leading to accident or injury, including:

  • Standing on the top rung of the ladder without additional support.
  • Carrying heavy items up or down the ladder.
  • Placing ladders on unstable footing, like soft ground or other objects.
  • Exposing the ladder (especially ones made from metal) to nearby electrical wires.

Unsafe ladder practices can be extremely dangerous and possibly fatal. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 22,710 workplace ladder injuries in 2020, and a total of 161 deaths. Industries with a focus on installation, maintenance, repair, construction and extraction accounted for nearly half of all ladder injuries.

View FFVA Mutual’s Ladder Safety Inspection Video

6 on-the-job ladder safety best practices

There are several important steps employees can take to stay safe on a day-to-day basis. Here are the 6 most helpful ladder safety tips employees can practice every day: 

  1. Maintain three points of contact: Make sure employees are following the three-points-of-contact rule. That means keeping three body parts (either one arm and two feet or two arms and one foot) on the ladder at all times. This will increase stability and groundedness and decrease the likelihood of employees losing their balance and falling.
  1. Face the ladder for more stability: It’s also important for employees to face the ladder every time they are going up or coming down. This positioning is significantly safer than facing out and reduces the chance of slipping or falling forward when moving along the ladder.
  1. Keep lifting loads light: Employees should avoid carrying heavy items up or down the ladder, which could cause them (or the ladder) to lose balance. They should rely on other employees to pass tools and other equipment up to them. 
  1. Ensure stable grounding: Ladders should always be placed on hard, stable footing, like concrete. Avoid putting a ladder on soft ground that can easily cause it to shift, slide or tip when being used.
  1. Don’t stack the ladder: Ladders require strong, stable support to be used safely, so operators should never aim to boost a ladder’s length by placing it on a stack of boxes or other similarly unstable grounding. It’s also a good idea to assign one individual to hold the ladder to prevent unstable bases.
  1. Lean extension ladders at an appropriate angle: When using extension ladders, employees should aim to stick to a four-to-one angle: For every four rungs, the base of the ladder should be moved back roughly one foot to prevent tipping and slipping.

4 steps you can take to increase workplace ladder safety

Of course, to promote better ladder safety across the entire organization, leadership needs to institute a culture of workplace safety. Here are some steps you can take to make ladder safety a priority in your organization:

  1. Inspect all ladders prior to use: You should assign a designated ladder inspector who will conduct all daily inspections of ladders, looking for possible damage. This person should have extensive experience using ladders and should understand how each component functions properly.
  1. Conduct a job hazard analysis: Workplace conditions might make ladder usage more dangerous. That might mean the prevalence of exposed electrical wires or excessively slippery floors. Conduct routine job hazard analyses to identify any possible workplace hazards and take steps to ensure safe and clean working conditions.
  1. Invest in employee training programs: Employee training is one of the most effective ways to prevent workplace ladder injury. Periodically train your employees on ladder safety best practices that are most relevant to your specific workplace requirement. All training programs should include experienced employees, who might still be willing to take dangerous shortcuts when using ladders.
  1. Establish a safety committee: Your safety committee serves as your organization’s dedicated group of safety-focused individuals. It’s responsible for prioritizing safety topics, earmarking funding for training and assigning individuals to specific safety-related roles. It should also play a lead role in all workplace-safety initiatives.

FFVA Mutual’s ladder safety training courses

Maintaining ladder safety is an important step to creating a workplace culture that prioritizes employee safety. At FFVA Mutual, we give our policyholders access to a range of safety training courses that cover a comprehensive set of safety topics. In the ladder safety category, our programs give policyholders information on:

  • Portable ladders
  • Fixed ladders
  • Ladder maintenance
  • Ladder selection
  • Ladder placement
  • Ladder care and usage

We offer policyholders courses in a range of formats, including on-demand recordings, in-person sessions and virtual classes, giving them the convenience to access training information that fits their preferences. If you want to learn more about our safety training courses or if you’re ready to sign up for one, visit our safety training course page to get started.

Our workers’ compensation Solutionists at FFVA Mutual work closely with customers to deliver personalized underwriting, safety and claims services to help them improve workplace safety and resolve claims fast. Reach out to our team to get a conversation started.