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Reducing ladder hazards on construction sites

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regularly finds that ladders lead to a high number of workplace injuries for construction workers. Though they are necessary equipment for the job, they increase fall risks, and falls are always the main way that workers are both hurt and killed in this occupation.

For instance, some OSHA reports say that ladders and stairways alone lead to 36 deaths and 24,882 injuries annually.

So, what can employers do to reduce the risk and ensure that these accidents do not occur? OSHA recommends the following:

  • Inspect all ladders before use, looking for defects and damage. Examples include things like broken rungs, missing cleats, damaged safety devices or bent side rails.
  • Always use the proper ladder for the job at hand. Using a ladder that is slightly too short, for instance, can increase risks.
  • Make sure that ladders are clean, especially looking for things like grease that may cause workers to slip.
  • When defective ladders are found, don't just set them aside. Get rid of them immediately or mark them clearly as defective so that no one uses them.
  • Understand the maximum load ratings and never exceed them, even if it seems like the ladder can hold more than it's rated to hold. Carefully consider the weight of workers, tools and materials.
  • Keep metal ladders away from power lines and electrical work.

Did your employer neglect to do these things and put you in danger? If a fall from a ladder results in injuries in New Hampshire, it's very important that you understand all of your rights to workers' compensation.

Source: OSHA, "Worker Safety Series Construction," accessed March 30, 2018

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