March’s Ladder Safety Month designation is a nationwide campaign supported by safety organizations, ladder manufacturers, and safety professionals. The goal is to bring awareness and improvement of ladder safety standards and to educate users on the proper selection, care, and safe use of ladders. Are you using ladders safely?
Keep basic tool safety rules in mind. Ladders are tools and many of the common sense safety precautions apply.
- Do not use ladders if you are tired, dizzy, or prone to losing your balance.
- Make sure you are wearing clean, slip-resistant footwear.
- Inspect your ladder before use to ensure it is clear of debris and in good working condition.
- Use the right ladder for the job.
- Make sure the ladder is set up free of obstructions and in accordance with ladder safety rules.
- Familiarize yourself with all safety, care, and use information specific to the particular ladder you are using.
Maintain three points of contact. Keeping a safe climbing posture minimizes the chances of slipping and falling from a ladder. A safe ladder climbing posture is defined as facing the ladder with two hands and one foot OR two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder at all times (ascending, descending, or working from).
Know and comply with OSHA standards for fall protection safety. Fixed ladders over 24 feet require ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems.
The required ladder safety systems are defined by OSHA as: “A system attached to a fixed ladder designed to eliminate or reduce the possibility of a worker falling off the ladder. A ladder safety system usually consists of a carrier, safety sleeve, lanyard, connectors, and body harness. Cages and wells are not considered ladder safety systems”. Portable, free-standing ladders are not approved anchor points as they could potentially fall with the worker and cause further injury. Best practice in using fall protection while climbing portable ladders would be an approved anchor-point (with tie-off available without climbing) above a worker using a ladder.
Understanding and working in compliance with these safety guidelines will help eliminate tens of thousands of ladder fall-related injuries and more than 100 fatalities each year. For more resources on ladder safety, visit