The Occupation Safety and Health Administration reports that more than 24,000 people are injured each year due to falls from construction stairways and ladders. Although step ladders make it easier to reach objects and places, specific safety precautions must be followed at all times. Step ladders come in a variety of heights, ranging from 4 to 12 feet. Remember that working at heights of 4 feet can still place workers at a high risk of sustaining injuries if proper caution is not heeded.
Climbing the Step Ladder
When climbing a step ladder, make sure you do so facing the ladder’s rungs. Always hold on to the ladder as you are climbing, even if it is only 4 feet high. Never climb higher than the second-to-last rung. This can cause you to lose your balance or fall, and the ladder could tip over. Never carry items up the step ladder or overextend your body by leaning too far to one side. This can cause severe injuries if you lose your balance and fall.
Step Ladder Placement
Always place a step ladder on even ground that has no obstructions. All of the ladder's feet should be equally steady on the ground and never placed on top of other objects. If you cannot reach the area in which you want to work, purchase a taller ladder. Before climbing the ladder, make sure that it is completely opened and that the spreaders are locked. Spreaders will provide more safety by keeping the ladder steady while climbing.
Step Ladder Inspection
Always inspect your step ladder before using it. Check the ladder’s steps and rungs for wear and tear, and to make sure they are strong and sturdy. Determine that the step ladder’s spreader locks the ladder securely when it is in the open position. A faulty spreader can cause the ladder to tip over or collapse. If a ladder does not pass a safety inspection, replace or tag it for the safety of other workers.
Since step ladders are common tools used around the home, always wear appropriate shoes. Never climb a stepladder without shoes, as this will not provide you with adequate grip. Shoe soles that provide good grip are the best when climbing a step ladder.