Ladder-related falls continue to be problematic for US workplaces, despite being almost entirely preventable. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that workplace ladder falls injured 17,825 workers and 145 of those injuries resulted in death.
While fatalities have declined over the past couple of years, injuries from ladder falls are increasing. In 2016 there were 16,690 non-fatal injuries and 183 fatalities. 2017 saw an increase to 17,180 non-fatal injuries and 156 fatalities.
Workplace safety organizations, ladder manufacturers, and safety professionals continue to prioritize ladder safety awareness and training to help stop these incidents.
Though injuries and deaths related to fixed ladders are relatively low, they are entirely preventable. Fixed ladders are permanently attached to a structure, building, or equipment. OSHA recently updated its fixed-ladder fall protection rules which phases in a requirement for employers to have ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems for fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet and phases out the use of cages or wells for fall protection. Look for kits that offer easy installation and maintenance. It is also important to protect workers at the top of ladder access with a self-closing swing gate and/or guardrail.
Movable ladders seem to pose a particular problem. Manufacturers have made many updates with built-in safety features so many of the injuries sustained while using movable ladders may be more related to proper training and use. Employers hold responsibility here to make the investment to properly train workers on ladder use and to ensure equipment is in good working order. Ladder users need to ensure they follow training and best practices and are inspecting their ladders before each use. Free online training is available through the American Ladder Institute. The free NIOSH Ladder Safety App will help you on the job with features including an inclination indicator and graphic guides for ladder selection, inspection, positioning, accessorizing, and safe use.