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Ladder safety tips: Picking the proper ladder

Ladder falls can lead to serious injuries and are sometimes fatal. It is very important to know how to use ladders safely and to do so every time, without growing complacent. All it takes is one slip for a catastrophic accident.

To help you stay safe on the job, here are a few tips to help you pick the right ladder:

  • Do not use a ladder that just barely reaches the intended height. For instance, if the edge of the roof is 10 feet high, a 10-foot ladder is too short. You want it to extend a few rungs or a few feet beyond the edge, making it easier to get on and off of the ladder from the top.
  • Make sure you have the right ladder type. An extension ladder is great for some jobs but inappropriate for others. Trying to use the wrong type of ladder increases the risk.
  • Never climb too high on the ladder. Heed the warnings telling you not to stand on the top or on the rung right below the top.
  • Do not use ladders to transport tools and materials. You need to have both hands free to grip the ladder so that you always have three points of contact.
  • Do not lean on a ladder. This is one of the most common reasons for a fall. If you can’t reach something that you need to reach — i.e., an electrical box — get down and move the ladder closer.

These tips help, but workplace accidents are still possible, even when following them. Injured workers always need to know their rights.

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