Use and MIsuse of Portable Ladders-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, April 15, 2013

Use and MIsuse of Portable Ladders

MAn Falling Off Ladder

Did you know, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, approximately 65,000 workers go to the hospital every year due to ladder-related accidents?

We have had our share of accidents on ladders here at Carnegie Mellon.  I have been seeing more and people who could be using ladders more safely.  In my travels around campus I’ve seen people who are using old ladders.  Modern ladders have anti-slip safety shoes or feet on them to provide extra stability.  Older ladders without these feet can slip out from under us.  I have also seen people use folding ladders as a stationary ladder.  When folding ladders are propped against a wall their feet don’t completely grip the floor.  In this configuration, the chances of the ladder slipping out increases greatly.  Lastly, I have seen people standing on the top step. 

Don’t become a statistic.  Here are a few tips on protecting yourself from injuries:

  1. Never stand on the top two steps of a step ladder or top three of a straight ladder.
  2. Before each use inspect ladders for cracked or broken parts such as rungs, steps, side rails, feet and locking components.
  3. Select the right ladder for the job.  If the ladder is too short for the job, get another one.
  4. A stepladder requires level ground support for all four of its side rails.  If the worksite is uneven select another ladder.
  5. Never attempt to move the ladder without first descending.
  6. Never place a stepladder on other objects such as boxes or scaffolds in an effort to gain additional height.
  7. Use a ladder that has anti-slip feet at the bottom of the stepladder.
  8. Maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing.
  9. Never use a step ladder as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.

Ladder safety is a big deal.  Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas.  Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In 2000, TBI accounted for 46% of fatal falls among older adults.

By: Madelyn Miller,, 412-268-1377