Ladders have a reputation for risk on the job. Anything that takes you off of a level surface and increases the distance between you and the ground is going to increase your risk. The higher a fall is, the greater the chances for serious injury.

But it is the fall itself that is dangerous. When used properly, a ladder does not have to increase the odds of falling, even if it changes the consequences of such a fall. As a worker, if you want to lower the chances of a fall and decrease the risk, make sure that you:

  • Keep two feet of ladder above your feet so that you can hold it. For instance, if you need to climb eight feet up, you want to use a 10-foot ladder to do so.
  • Maintain your three points of contact at all times. Move either one hand or foot at a time when climbing, and only use one hand when working on the ladder.
  • Don’t use any device to climb except for the proper ladder. If it’s too short, don’t use it or prop it up to make it taller. Just take the time to get a taller ladder before doing the job.
  • When you need to move to the sides, climb down and physically move the ladder. Do not lean. Yes, leaning seems faster, but if the ladder comes off balance, the whole thing can tip in a split second. You could also slip and fall off of the ladder, even when it stays up.

Safety advice like this certainly helps, but accidents do happen. Those who get injured must know what legal options they have.