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What are some ladder best practices?

Ladders, along with staircases, are one of the top ten contributors to injuries in the workplace, says the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Individuals who work in construction, where ladders are part of the job on a regular basis, can help protect themselves and their coworkers by following some ladder best practices.

One of OSHA's top tips for good ladder use is the make sure the ladder being used is the appropriate one for the job. Ladders are not all created equal, and a step ladder isn't the right tool when you're trying to reach a second story window. Choose a ladder that gives you the reach you need in the safest possible manner. Obey the maximum load requirements published by the ladder manufacturer.

Before you get on a ladder, make sure someone has checked it to make sure it is free from damage or wear that could make it unsafe. Even if you used the same ladder the day before or early on the job, give it a once over to make sure nothing as changed. A ladder that has been damaged by other equipment on a site or has been worn down over the years might not support you as expected.

Finally, work together as a team when using a ladder. In many cases, someone should provide separate support to the ladder while someone else climbs. Consider passing supplies up to the person doing the work rather than having them attempt to climb the ladder while carrying supplies in one hand.

While these common-sense safety measures can save you injury on the job, you can't stop all work-related accidents with such measures. If you are injured on a construction job, then understanding how to reach out to access workers' compensation and other recovery options can make the difference between full recovery and a continued struggle.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Worker Safety Series Construction," accessed March 24, 2016

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