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Workers: Heed these warnings before stepping onto ladders

We frequently write about the hazards that New York construction workers face when they are working on skyscrapers and high-rises. However, construction workers and other outdoor laborers also regularly face danger even when they are only working a story or two off the ground. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, more than 40 percent of all fatal workplace accidents caused by falls involve ladders. An additional 20 percent of non-fatal fall injuries involve these seemingly simple tools.

Thankfully, the majority of ladder injuries may be prevented if certain safety measures are taken thoughtfully and consistently. As a result, it is critically important that both employers and workers alike take ladder safety seriously. It is important to avoid using ladders when a safer alternative is available. However, when ladders are necessary to complete a job, embracing ladder-fall safety prevention measures is essential to maintaining a safe worksite.

Make sure all ladders used on any given worksite are regularly inspected for defects and that workers are properly trained in matters of ladder safety. This training should include hands-on demonstrations of safe three-point contact when moving up or down a ladder. At that point, please make sure that all ladders are used appropriately in connection with any particular task, worker’s weight and location of use.

In addition, it is important to always face the steps of a ladder when climbing up or down and to avoid hauling tools while climbing or descending a ladder. Instead, use a hand line to transport tools so that a worker’s hands are always free to properly grasp the ladder for support when climbing up or down.

Source:, “Researchers reveal deadly facts about workplace ladders; Do's and don'ts for ladder safety,” May 27, 2014

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