Using a ladder may seem like the easiest way to do construction work at high levels, but it’s not necessarily the safest. This is why many experts support “ladder last” policies, and Nationwide is now requiring our contractors to implement a ladder last program.
Among construction workers in the United States, 81 percent of fall injuries that require treatment in an emergency department involve ladders, according to the CDC. Ladders can also lead to citation issues for construction companies. In 2016, ladders were the third most common reason for OSHA citations in construction, while issues involving duty to have fall protection were the number one most common reason.
Although ladders are so common that construction workers may not regard them with the caution they deserve, they actually pose a serious risk. They should not be used when it is unnecessary to do so, especially if the worker will have to do dangerous tasks, such as reaching or supporting heavy items.
Construction companies can reduce the risk of falls from A-frame ladders by writing and enforcing a ladder last program. This means that alternatives to ladders will be used whenever possible, and ladders will be considered a last resort and used only when it is safe to do so.
Instead of ladders, construction workers can use:
- A scissor lift
- A mobile scaffold
- A pulley to lift materials
When ladders are used, they should be inspected regularly to ensure they are in good condition and set up according to the manufacturer’s instructions and OSHA regulations. Workers must be trained on safety procedures, which should include the ladder last policy.
Below is a photo from BNC’s Ladder Last Program training.