A member county maintenance employee was drilling a hole in the wall. He was standing on the third rung of a 4-foot ladder.  The ladder came out from underneath him.  He fell on his back to the floor hitting his head neck on the center wall. The findings showed the ladder was opened and locked in place; however, the employee was leaning too far to one side  He was not facing his work and he did not have a spotter.  He also should have selected a different type of ladder. The very next day ladder training was conducted in this department.

Ladder safety training is an effective way to prevent needless accidents, yet many workers are not receiving the necessary training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 73% of the victims of workplace ladder accidents contacted for a survey had not been provided with training on the safe use of ladders.

If any employees use ladders, Counties should make training for safe ladder use a priority. Effective ladder safety training should incorporate the following 10 key elements:

  1. Importance of Safe Ladder Use
    Drive home the risks posed by improper ladder use. Share knowledge gathered from accidents or near-accidents in nearby areas to provide particularly effective, relatable anecdotes.
  1. Proper Ladder Selection
    Cover the different types of ladders and their proper uses, including the appropriate weight load for various types of ladders.
  1. Ladder Maintenance
    Workers should recognize the signs of a damaged or unsafe ladder, as well as best practices to maintain ladders properly.
  1. Proper Ladder Set-Up
    Training should cover ladder footing and support, securing the ladder, proper height- to base- ratio and minimum overlap area for extension ladders leaning against a structure.
  1. Climbing and Working on Ladders
    Rushing up and down a ladder, carrying objects, leaning away from the ladder, improper footwear and a host of other hazardous behaviors are leading causes of falls. Training should focus on the proper way to safely work from ladders.
  1. Dos and Don’ts
    Bulleted lists of do’s and don’ts are often an efficient to communicate a lot of information effectively. For example:
    • Do keep your body centered on the ladder.
    • Do maintain three points of contact on the ladder.
    • Don’t lean too far in either direction.
    • Don’t place a ladder on soft ground.
    • Consider providing employees with a handout of Dos and Don’ts to refer to after the training.
  1. Industry-Specific Information
    Ensure that training is relevant by tailoring presentations to your industry. Provide real-life scenarios, OSHA regulations and hazards that your workers may confront in the workplace.
  1. Engage Your Audience
    Use practical demonstrations and small group activities to enliven training sessions and appeal to workers who learn by doing.
  1. Follow-Up Safety Meetings
    Check in with workers on a regular basis and remind them about the safe ladder training points that they have learned. Ask open-ended questions to ensure that they have mastered key principles.
  1. Post Ongoing Reminders
    Reinforce ladder safety training with posters and other visual reminders of the basics of safe ladder use. Free posters and other materials are available from OSHA.
Emelia McEwen  |  MACo PCT/WCT Sr. Loss Control Specialist  |  emcewen@mtcounties.org  |  (406) 449-4370