Silver Spring, MD: The Center to Protect Workers' Rights, 2004 Dec; :1-2
Each year, about 50 construction workers are killed by falls from ladders. More than half of the deaths occur to people working from ladders. Twice as many falls occur stepping down compared to going up ladders. The main cause of falls from straight and extension ladders is sliding of the ladder base. For self-supported ladders or stepladders, the main cause is tipping sideways. A lot of workers carrying ladders hurt their backs, too. Protect Yourself. Choose the right equipment. Use ladders mainly for climbing to or from other levels. If you can, instead of using ladders to work from, use scaffolds or scissor lifts; they are safer to work from. Choose the right ladder length. A sticker on a commercial ladder tells you its maximum weight capacity. Use only type I, IA, or IAA ladders, which can support 250, 300, and 375 pounds, respectively. OSHA says job-made portable ladders must be tested for strength; a regular ladder must be able to hold at least 4 times its maximum weight capacity. Ladder rungs, cleats, and steps must be parallel, level, and evenly spaced (10 to 14 inches for most ladders). The rungs and steps of metal ladders must be grooved or roughened to minimize slipping. Side rails must be at least 11.5 inches apart. Do not tie ladders together. If you use two or more ladders to reach one spot, they must have a platform or landing between them. Ladder parts must be smooth to prevent punctures or cuts or snagging of clothing. Wood ladders must not be painted with a coating that can hide defects. Employees must be trained in ladder use. A competent person must train employees in site-specific ladder safety.
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