Falls account for almost a quarter of all workplace injuries and more than $14 billion in workers’ compensation claims, according to Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety’s 2014 Workplace Safety Index. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) took a closer look at workplace falls back in 2011 and discovered that 20% of injuries and 43% of fatal falls involved ladders. Among construction workers, that percentage skyrocketed to 81% of all injuries.

Why are ladders such a hazard? For starters, job site ladders are not always up to code. Ladders are listed in the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations. In many instances, however, human error is to blame. NIOSH discovered that the majority of workplace ladder accidents were caused by improper use, selecting the wrong type of ladder, or using a ladder in disrepair.

Ladder safety training is an effective way to prevent needless accidents, yet many workers are not receiving the necessary training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 73% of the victims of workplace ladder accidents contacted for a survey had not been provided with training on the safe use of ladders.

If any employees use ladders, business owners and HR professionals should make training for safe ladder use a priority. Effective ladder safety training should incorporate the following 10 key elements:

  1. Importance of Safe Ladder Use
    Drive home the risks posed by improper ladder use. Share knowledge gathered from accidents or near-accidents in nearby areas to provide particularly effective, relatable anecdotes.

  1. Proper Ladder Selection
    Cover the different types of ladders and their proper uses, including the appropriate weight load for various types of ladders.

  2. Ladder Maintenance
    Workers should recognize the signs of a damaged or unsafe ladder, as well as best practices to maintain ladders properly.

  3. Proper Ladder Set-Up
    Training should cover ladder footing and support, securing the ladder, proper height- to base- ratio and minimum overlap area for extension ladders leaning against a structure.

  4. Climbing and Working on Ladders
    Rushing up and down a ladder, carrying objects, leaning away from the ladder, improper footwear and a host of other hazardous behaviors are leading causes of falls. Training should focus on the proper way to safely work from ladders.

  5. Dos and Don’ts
    Bulleted lists of do’s and don’ts are often an efficient to communicate a lot of information effectively. For example:

  • Do keep your body centered on the ladder.

  • Do maintain three points of contact on the ladder.

  • Don’t lean too far in either direction.

  • Don’t place a ladder on soft ground.

  • Consider providing employees with a handout of Dos and Don’ts to refer to after the training.

  1. Industry-Specific Information
    Ensure that training is relevant by tailoring presentations to your industry. Provide real-life scenarios, OSHA regulations and particular hazards that your workers may actually confront in the workplace.

  1. Engage Your Audience
    Use practical demonstrations and small group activities to enliven training sessions and appeal to workers who learn by doing.

  2. Follow-Up Safety Meetings
    Check in with workers on a regular basis and remind them about the safe ladder training points that they have learned. Ask open-ended questions to ensure that they have mastered key principles.

  3. Post Ongoing Reminders
    Reinforce ladder safety training with posters and other visual reminders of the basics of safe ladder use. Free posters and other materials are available from OSHA.

If you are not sure where to begin with your ladder safety training, UniqueHR can help. We offer a complete onsite ladder safety training course that provides all the essentials that your workers need to stay safe. For more information, please click the course link and complete the online form, or contact us at any of our offices.