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General Information

Portable ladders are one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment in industry. They are handy, simple to use, very versatile, practical and effective. Portable ladders are used by many different people to perform variety of jobs.
Accidents from portable ladders are very common. Falls are the most common cause of worker injury associated with ladder use. Falls are mostly caused by the:

  1. Use of faulty ladders;
  2. Improper set-up of a ladder; or
  3. Incorrect use of ladders.

Accident Statistics

Consequences of the accidents from portable ladders include disabling injuries and fatalities. The following statistics and real stories demonstrate the severity of accidents from ladders:

  • As per the Center to Protect Workers' Rights, each year, about 50 construction workers are killed by falls from ladders. More than half of the deaths occur to people working from ladders. Twice as many falls occur stepping down compared to going up ladders. The main causes of falls from portable ladders are sliding of the ladder base and tipping sideways. A lot of workers carrying ladders hurt their backs, too.
  • According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of the fatal falls were from ladders in 2009. 
  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the U.S. relating to ladders every year (http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/ladder.html).  

Ladder accidents are usually caused by:

  • Workers not being trained adequately on ladder safety
  • Ladder being in poor condition
  • Improper selection, care or use including incorrect positioning
  • Using unsafe work practices
  • Using the wrong ladder for the specific job
  • Using defective ladders

However, accidents can be prevented by observing Cal/OSHA Regulations and following best practices. Some of the more common hazards involving ladders, such as instability, electrical shock, and falls, can be predicted and prevented. Prevention requires proper planning, correct ladder selection, good work procedures and adequate ladder maintenance.

Portable ladder safety involves:

The requirements and best practices on each of the elements are given in the respective pages.