National Ladder Safety Month

March 1, 2023 | by BMI Staff

March is National Ladder Safety month, and for good reason! Ladders are responsible for more than 100 fatalities and even more injuries, each year. There are so many ways to ensure ladder safety, this spring, and keep yourself, your coworkers, and your loved ones out of this statistic. 

Ladder Selection

When selecting the correct ladder for your specific task, there are a few considerations to make. The first consideration is height. Don’t assume your ladder will be tall enough, but rather assure that your needed height is aligned with the height of your ladder. For example, your ladder height will have a maximum reach that is one foot shorter. For that reason, you’ll need to ensure your ladder is at least one foot taller than what you are reaching for. Once you have height down, ensure the material you choose is in line with the work you are doing. Fiberglass, for example, is best for working near electricity and won’t dent, shatter, or rust. Aluminum on the other hand is lightweight and strong, but not conducive for working with electricity. 

Ladder Inspection

Before using a ladder, particularly a shared one at your job or your personal ladder that has been sitting unused for a while, make sure to inspect it for the following:

  • Damage or lack of structural integrity.
  • Missing or loose pieces.
  • Oil, grease, or other slippery material.
  • The condition of each accessory, such as leg levelers and shelves.
  • Slip resistant material at the base.

At the end of the day, trust your gut. If the ladder seems to be missing some important safety features, recognize that and choose a different one, instead.

Ladder Setup

Now that you have selected and inspected your ladder, it’s time to set it up properly! Here are a few rules of thumb when it comes to ladder setup:

  • Always place your ladder on solid ground, never on an unstable object or soft ground that is prone to sinking in. 
  • If you are using a straight ladder, ensure both side rails are in contact with whatever the ladder is leaning against, and do not lean it against insecure objects.
  • If you are positioning the ladder in front of a door, secure it shut so it isn’t opened on you.
  • Employ the 4 to 1 rule: place the base of your ladder one foot away from the building for every four feet of height. So if you are reaching a height of 12 feet, the base should be 3 feet from the building. 

Ladder Use

It’s time to use the ladder, but don’t forget these safe usage details:

  • Make sure to face the ladder any time you are climbing up and down.
  • Wear a toolbelt to keep both of your hands free while climbing.
  • Use the 3-point system: always have both hands and one foot or both feet and one hand on the ladder at all times.
  • When holding onto the ladder, grasp the steps themselves, not the side rail.
  • Step on the ladder rungs with the arch of your foot, rather than the ball, for added balance.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes with a heel.

Do you use ladders for your contract work or small business? Find a BMI Agent to make sure your business coverage is up-to-date!