Ladder safety in the workplace

Florida workers may be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues guidelines for fall protection, and employers are obligated to follow them. The rules are aimed at providing a safe working environment. When falls happen due to lax procedures, it is important to know why the accident happened and who was responsible.

Workers must be protected if they are 6 feet or higher above the ground in the construction industry or four feet in general industry. Ladders are often used by workers, and OSHA has specific standards for ladders as well as rules concerning positioning and stability of the ladder. For instance, a ladder must be repositioned each time it is moved. If this is not done, the user may fall. Likewise, unsteadiness is a risk factor.

OSHA rules call for portable ladders to be positioned in such a way that side rails are at least three feet above the landing securing the top of the side rails. When it is not possible to use the three-foot extension, a device for gripping objects must be used. The ladder should be inspected each time it is used to make sure its condition is adequate to provide a safe platform for the worker. The ladder should also be approved for the worker’s weight and not move when the worker is on it.

Unsafe ladder use may cause construction accidents, and an injured worker might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits including medical treatment and lost wages. However, if the negligence of a non-employer third party was responsible for the injury, the worker might be able to file a separate personal injury lawsuit in addition to the workers’ compensation claim.

Source: OSTHA, “Preventing Falls“, November 05, 2014