Getting to the Top
Over the last 10 years the number of ladder-related injuries has increased 50%. Human error is by far the leading cause of ladder accidents. According to the Bureau of Labor, fully half of all ladder accidents are due to users carrying items as the ascend or descend the ladder. To maximize safety, use towlines, a tool belt, or an assistant to convey materials so that the climber’s hands are free when climbing.
Although the user's weight or size typically does not increase the likelihood of a fall, improper climbing posture creates user clumsiness and may cause falls. Reduce your chances of falling during the climb by:
- wearing slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles to prevent foot fatigue
- cleaning the soles of shoes to maximize traction
- climb slowly and deliberately while avoiding sudden movement
- never attempt to move a ladder while standing on it
- keep the center of your belt buckle (stomach) between the ladder side rails when climbing and while working
- do not overreach or lean while working so that you don't fall off the ladder sideways or pull the ladder over sideways while standing on it
The Three Point-of-Contact Climb
When climbing a ladder, it is safest to utilize Three Points-of-Contact because it minimizes the chances of slipping and falling from the ladder. At all times during ascent/descent, and while working, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder rungs and/or side rails. In this way, the climber is not likely to become unstable in the event one limb slips during the climb. It is important to note that the climber must not carry any objects in either hand that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder; otherwise, Three Points-of-Contact with the ladder cannot be adequately maintained and the chance of falling is increased in the event a hand or foot slip occurs.
Remember, It’s not the fall that gets you, it is the sudden stop.