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Incorrect use of a ladder: What not to do

Ladder accidents often happen simply because people do not use the ladders correctly.

This does not always mean the worker is entirely to blame. The instructions may have been unclear. The worker's boss may have insisted that he or she use the ladder improperly to get a job done faster. The company may not have given the worker proper training.

No matter the reason, here are a few examples of the incorrect use of a ladder:

  • Standing on the flat top step of the ladder. Ladders are not meant to be used to their full height.
  • Using a closed ladder in any way. You should not climb it, on the front or the back, or sit on it.
  • Climbing an extension ladder that is too far away from the building or too close to it. If it's too close, it can tip over backward. If it's too far, it can slide backward and fall.
  • Climbing the ladder in an improper physical or mental state. This could include after using certain medications, for instance, or while dealing with an injury.
  • Having two people climb the ladder at the same time.
  • Putting more weight on the ladder than it can hold. Remember to factor in the weight of tools and equipment.
  • Reaching or leaning excessively while already at the top of the ladder. If something is out of reach, you're far better off to get down and move the ladder to a better position.

Ladder mistakes can be deadly. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for construction workers. Those who are involved need to know all of their rights.

Source: Werner Co, "Do's and don'ts of ladder climbing," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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