Effective Safety Measures for Using Stairways and Ladders

When you work in construction, contracting, or any type of business that involves using ladders and stairways, there are always risks involved. Business managers and employees must know about the injuries that can occur if ladders and stairways are not being used in a safe and smart manner. Your workers compensation insurance in Massachusetts may be affected if an employee is ever injured this way.
Stairways and ladders cause many injuries among construction workers, and about half of the injuries caused by slips, trips and falls from ladders and stairways require time off from the job. Often on construction sites, shoddy design or ignoring safety measures can lead to injuries on temporary stairways. Additionally, not using ladders properly—such as not having someone secure the ladder—lead to many injuries as well. Here is what construction workers and jobsite managers should know about stair and ladder safety:

1. Stairs:
• Handrails on stairs should be able to withstand a force of 200 pounds.
• Stairways with four or more risers, or higher than 20 inches, must be equipped with at least one handrail.
• Stairways with four or more risers or more than 30 inches high must have a rail along each unprotected edge.
• Stairs should be installed between 30 and 50 degrees and must have uniform riser height and tread depth with less than ¼ inch of variation.
• For temporary stairs on a jobsite, only use pan stairs if filled with filler at least to the top of the edge of each pan.
• Stairway landings must be at least 30 inches deep and 22 inches wide at every 12 feet or less of vertical rise. Unprotected sides of landings must have standard 42 inch guardrail systems.
• Where doors or gates open directly on a stairway, provide a platform that extends at least 20 inches beyond the swing of the door.

2. Ladders:
• General ladder requirements include keeping them in a safe condition and keeping the area around the top and bottom of a ladder clear. Ensure rungs, cleats, and steps are level and uniformly spaced and keep ladders free from slipping hazards.
• Don’t tie ladders together to make longer sections and don’t use single rail ladders.
• Don’t load ladders beyond the maximum load for which they were built.
• Secure ladders to prevent accidental movement due to workplace activity.
• Only use ladders on stable and level surfaces, unless secured.
• Do not use ladders on slippery surfaces unless secured or provided with slip-resistant feet.
• The side rails of the ladder must extend at least 3 feet above the upper landing surface.
• When climbing, face the ladder when either going up or down. Also, use both hands when going up or down and do not carry an object or load that could cause you to lose your balance.

At Wolpert Insurance & Risk Management, we want to help contractors and construction workers avoid the risks in using stairways and ladders while also avoiding Massachusetts workers compensation claims. For more information, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help.