There are many jobs at a construction site that require individuals to work above ground level. Ladders, lifts and scaffolds can all be used to get them to higher areas. It is important that workers understand proper safety procedures when they are working on these pieces of equipment.
While there is some added stability for lifts and scaffolds, this isn't the case for ladders. All workers should make sure that they are familiar with proper ladder usage so that they can remain safe while they are at work. Falls are the number one killer of construction workers, so corners should not be cut at worksites.
Inspect the ladder
Before a ladder is put into service, it must be inspected. No ladder should be used if it has any defects at all. This includes damaged rungs, worn out side rails or other things that impact the structural integrity. If the ladder isn't in good condition, it must be tagged so that it won't be used until it is fixed. If it isn't repairable, it should be marked for replacement and not used again.
Position it properly
Setting up the ladder is also an important step. It must be on a solid foundation. If the ground is soft, placing it on a board might be sufficient. The top of the ladder must extend at least three feet above the top brace point. You shouldn't use it around any electrical lines since the ladder acts as a grounding source and can cause you to be shocked if you, your tools or the ladder touch an uninsulated line.
No ladder should be set up where it might be struck or damaged. This includes placing it in front of an unsecured door or in the path of heavy equipment. If it must be placed in a location where there is traffic, it should be clearly marked to alert people that it is there.
The angle of the ladder matters. The bottom feet of the ladder must extend one foot for every four feet of height from the point of top stabilization. This means the ladder shouldn't be almost completely vertical.
Always face the rungs of the ladder when climbing. You should have three points of contact as you climb the ladder and work from it. This means two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot at a minimum the entire time you are on it. Don't try to get off the ladder from the side. Use a tool belt to carry things up the ladder and don't try to overreach or overextend while you are on the ladder.