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Extension Ladder Safety Precautions to Keep Workers Safe

Doesn't everyone know how to use a ladder? Isn't it just common sense, put it against the wall and climb up and don't fall, duh...? Isn't it more important to only focus on safety training for the more dangerous stuff like man lifts, and dump trucks, and work zone flaggers, and big power tools?

NO. To all of the above.

Although one of the most common tools used on a construction site, if improperly used, Extension Ladders can lead to serious injuries or even fatal incidents. Ladders are involved in 20 percent of fall injuries among workers and 81 percent of construction worker fall injuries.

According to OSHA, "Workers who use extension ladders risk permanent injury or death from falls and electrocutions. These hazards can be eliminated or substantially reduced by following good safety practices."

The extension ladder below is missing the foot assembly and the foot pads. This appears to be the top portion of an extension ladder that has been taken part. Definitely not safe!

OSHA Standard 1926.1060(a) states that the employer shall provide a training program for each employee using ladders and stairways, as necessary...to recognize hazards related to ladders and stairways...

If you are working with extension ladders remember these important safety precautions. If you are leading the safety huddle or toolbox talk on ladder safety, make sure these safety tips are communicated to your crews who are using extension ladders.

  • Always visually inspect all extension ladders before use for any defects such as: missing rungs, bolts, cleats, screws and loose components.
  • Remove defective ladders from service immediately.
  • Never take extension ladders apart to make two smaller ladders!
  • Extension ladders must be placed at a safe angle to avoid sliding or tipping.
  • Extension ladders use to reach another surface, like a roof, must extend at least
  • Maintain three points of contact when climbing an extension ladder. Two hands + one foot or two feet + one hand.
  • Do not over extend yourself to either side of the extension ladder. This can cause you to lose balance and shift the ladder away from yourself.
  • Always use the ladder as intended and follow all manufacturer's warnings for the specific type of ladder you are trained to use.
  • Place ladders at a safe angle and block the area with cones or warning signs to avoid displacement in busy areas.

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