This week, OSHA released the most cited safety violations for 2013. Interestingly, three of the ten are related to ladders or similar products.
The seventh most common violation was the improper use of ladders. Safe ladder use includes using the right ladder certified for the correct weight. Safe ladder use also includes using the ladder the way it was designed to be used, making sure to inspect the ladder before using it, and that the operator is not standing too high on the ladder.
The third most commonly cited issue was scaffolding. Although scaffolds and ladders are technically two different types of equipment, they are definitely related to one another and of interest to ladder safety professionals. In some cases, operators try to use a ladder to complete a task that really requires a scaffold or a lift. Operators should always make sure the scaffolding has the proper amount of support on each end and that the scaffolding can hold the required weight.
The most commonly cited issue by OSHA was lack of fall protection. Fall protection means ensuring operators are tied off properly and that the objects they are standing on are strong, clean and structurally sound. Although it is not the only thing to keep in mind with fall protection, using ladders properly contributes to fall protection.
With so many violations related to ladder use, it is becoming increasingly evident that we need to train, retrain and remind our operators how to properly use ladders and scaffolding. As safety professionals, we need to also make sure there are proper fall protection procedures in place and then train employees on the procedure.
What can each one of us do to better help better teach operators these guidelines?