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What you should know about working with ladders

The right kind of ladder safety is important in any workplace where employees may be expected to use ladders to reach a height. Not all ladders are the same, so using them incorrectly could lead to an accident. For employees who are hurt when using a ladder, workers' compensation should kick in to pay for medical expenses and potentially lost wages.

What should you know before using a ladder?

First, you should know the highest rung you can use on the ladder. There is typically a rung one or two from the top that has a mark that states not to climb further. Some ladders don't have this because they are intended to be used all the way to the top. Understand which kind of ladder you're using before you begin your climb. If you climb too high on the wrong kind of ladder, the weight and angle of your body could make it tip over.

If you're using a fold out or step ladder, make sure it has a metal spreader. This is a type of locking device that keeps it open and prevents it from folding up suddenly, which could result in it falling over.

In the case that you're using a non-self-supporting ladder, make sure the ground is secure and that the ladder is balanced. The ladder should be angled at around a fourth of the length of the ladder from the wall if it is metal or an eighth if it is wooden. Before you climb the ladder, make sure the runs are clean and even. They should not be smooth but instead have a textured surface to prevent slipping.

Taking time to know your ladder before you use it can help you prevent an injury. If you do get hurt, then you should be entitled to claim workers' compensation as long as you're an employee and performing work duties.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Ladder Safety," accessed Nov. 10, 2016

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