Stay On Top of Fall Hazards


Falls from elevation hazards are present at almost every job site, and many workers are exposed to these hazards daily.

An unprotected side or edge that is 6’ or more above a lower level should be protected from falls by the use of a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system. These hazardous exposures exist in many forms, and can be as seemingly innocuous as changing a light bulb on a step ladder to something as high risk as connecting bolts on high steel at 200 feet in the air.

Employers should design and use comprehensive fall protection programs to reduce the risk of serious or fatal injuries. At a minimum, employers should 1) identify all fall hazards at a work site; 2) conduct regular safety inspections; 3) train employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions; and 4) provide employees with appropriate protective equipment.

Again, any worker who may be exposed to a fall hazard should be properly trained. The training should enable each worker to recognize fall hazards and the procedures to follow for minimizing such hazards. The training should be provided by a person qualified through education and/or experience.

Utilize these basic ladder rules as a guide –

  • Inspect ladders before each use
  • Maintain ladders free of oil, grease and other slipping hazards
  • Keep metal parts lubricated
  • Make sure braces, bolts and screws are in place and secure
  • Do not load ladders beyond the manufacturer’s rated capacity
  • Use ladders only for their designed purpose
  • Use ladders only on stable and level surfaces unless secured to prevent accidental movement
  • Set ladder feet parallel to the surface that the ladder rests against
  • Clear areas around the top and bottom of ladders
  • Extend ladders at least 3 feet above the top support
  • Angle the ladder so that the distance from the bottom of the ladder to the wall is one-fourth the ladder’s working length
  • Do not move, shift or extend ladders while in use
  • Use ladders equipped with nonconductive side rails if the worker or the ladder could contact exposed energized electrical equipment
  • Face the ladder when moving up or down
  • Wear shoes with non-skid soles
  • Maintain three points of contact with the ladder — either both feet and one hand or one foot and two hands
  • Do not carry objects or loads that could cause loss of balance or falling

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