Every March, the American Ladder Institute (ALI) spearheads National Ladder Safety Month to promote the safe use of ladders at home and in the workplace.
Now in its seventh year, 2023’s National Ladder Safety Month will focus on four different themes:
- Week One: Choosing Your Ladder
- Week Two: Safety Before the First Step (Inspection and Set Up)
- Week Three: Safety While Climbing
- Week Four: Safety at the Top
Ladder Safety Month was created to raise awareness about ladder safety and lower the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities. As part of the annual event, ALI offers resources to promote ladder safety, including training modules.
According to ALI, tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths result from the misuse of ladders every year. Falls are also the second leading cause of death in the United States, according to OSHA. Bureau of Labor Statistics data also show that ladder-related workplace incidents accounted for 161 fatalities and 22,710 injuries in 2020, and the latter statistic has remained largely unchanged since 2016.
Given that fall safety and ladder safety have been among the top 10 OSHA violations for several years running, raising awareness about ladder safety and promoting safe practices are prudent to enhancing workplace safety.
According to OSHA, it’s important to understand the different types of ladders (e.g., extension ladders versus step ladders) to choose the correct ladder for the job, and to know best practices for safe ladder use. It is also vital to follow all pertinent OSHA requirements related to ladder use.
Electrical contractors also must take electrical safety into consideration when selecting ladders for use. When working around electricity, it’s important to only use ladders with nonconductive siderails, according to Wesley Wheeler, NECA’s executive director of safety.
Wheeler also emphasized the importance of routine inspections of the ladder, noting that if any part of a ladder is missing or damaged, it should be replaced or fixed before any use, and any ladder that is beyond repair should be destroyed to prevent unsafe and noncompliant use.
“One thing electrical contractors and all construction employers need to remember, if a ladder is not safe to use on the job, it is not safe for anyone to take the old ladder home for personal use.” he said. “Destroy the ladder and buy a new one that meets manufacturer and industry standards.”
About The Author
Colleen Beaty is senior editor at ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Magazine, where she has worked since 2020. She has been writing about topics such as outside line work, wildlife and habitat conservation for more than 18 years. In her role with ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, she primarily works with the editorial team to fine-tune stories for the magazines and curate content for ECmag.com. She can also be found hosting ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR's webinars. She holds a BS in wildlife conservation from the University of Delaware.
Colleen is fueled by tea (especially chai), and can often be found cross-stitching or birding in her spare time (but not both at once).