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Top OSHA Workplace Violations – Ladders, Construction – Regulation 29 CFR 1926.1053

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept 2019

Total citations: 2,907

Total inspections: 2,392

Total proposed penalties: $7,172,688

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 6

Industries most often violating the ladders in construction standard:

Specialty Trade Contractors $6,428,762 (in proposed penalties)

Construction of Buildings $544,596

Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction $75,873

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $34,127

Real Estate $14,624

Administrative and Support Services $12,323

Utilities $11,987

Accommodation $3,500

Electrical Equipment, Appliance and Component Mfg. $2,919

Food Services and Drinking Places $1,895


Falls from portable ladders (step, straight, combination and extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries.

Portable Ladder Safety

  • Read and follow all labels/markings on the ladder.
  • Avoid electrical hazards! Look for overhead power lines before handling a ladder. Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment.
  • Always inspect the ladder prior to using it. If the ladder is damaged, it must be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.
  • Always maintain a three-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder while climbing.
  • Only use ladders and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers, jacks or hooks) for their designed purposes.
  • Ladders must be free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps or feet.
  • Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.
  • Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
  • Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface, unless it has been secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement.
  • Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.
  • Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
  • An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3ft above the point of support. Do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
  • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
  • A ladder placed in any location where it can be displaced by other work activities must be secured to prevent displacement or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder.
  • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
  • Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the ladder’s load rating and of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment.

Ladder Selection

Ladder safety starts here. Not all ladders are created equal, and different styles are designed to keep you safe in different situations and conditions. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right ladder for any job:

  • Select the right ladder style. Extension ladders, platform ladders, work platforms and even step ladders all have a place at home and on job sites. Choosing the correct ladder will help you stay safe when climbing or standing to perform a specific task.
  • Pick the right material. Aluminum ladders are lightweight and durable, but are not weather-resistant or non-conductive. Fiberglass ladders are weather-resistant and have non-conductive siderails, which make them a safe choice around electrical components.
  • Make sure the height is correct. Climbing to the top steps or standing too high on a ladder can put you at risk. Pick the ladder height that’s correct for the job. Extension ladders should be 7-10ft longer than your highest support point. Avoid standing above the fourth rung from the top on an extension ladder.
  • Make sure you choose a ladder that provides ample reach.A safe reach height is no more than 4ft from the top of the ladder.
  • Check ladder duty ratings or maximum load capacity before purchase. These ratings and a corresponding chart will tell you how much weight each ladder is capable of supporting. Light-duty ladders typically hold 200lbs; medium-duty and painter’s and handyman ladders hold about 22lbs. Heavy-duty, heavy-duty industrial ladders and special duty ladders can hold 250- 375lbs.
  • Choose a ladder that meets OSHA or ANSI regulations for industrial or commercial purposes.OHSA-approved and ANSI-approved ladders help keep your employees safe.

Ladder Inspection

  • Inspect your ladder before using it. Don’t use a ladder with structural damage.
  • Clean your ladder regularly. A clean ladder is much safer than a dirty ladder.
  • Check to make sure all moving parts work properly and are secured in place.
  • Never check a ladder by jumping up and down on it or using excess force to test for strength and integrity.

Climbing Tips

  • Face the ladder and keep three points of contact when climbing. Two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet is considered safe.
  • Make sure your ladder’s feet are firmly and securely on the ground.
  • Always face the ladder and use the rungs as grips. Avoid using the side rails to pull yourself up. Keep your body centered on the ladder.
  • Never climb with your back to the ladder.
  • Wear the right shoes. When climbing a ladder, you want to be wearing work boots or work shoes. Tennis shoes with appropriate tread are acceptable for light-duty jobs.
  • Avoid using your ladder outside in bad weather whenever possible.

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