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OSHA policies to protect construction workers on ladders

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has policies in place to safeguard construction workers who have to use ladders on the job. Its policies are designed to protect workers in North Carolina and around the country from falling from ladders that are positioned unsafely or are being used in unsafe conditions. Construction workers who are at least six feet high on ladders must be protected.

Every time a construction worker uses a portable ladder, the employee is at risk of falling, which may cause one or more of many types of injuries and possibly death. This could happen if the ladder is not set up safely because it could slip or move off of its supports. Falling from a ladder could also happen if the worker becomes unbalanced or the ladder becomes unstable.

By implementing the fall protection policies of OSHA, employers and employees can help reduce the risk of ladder falls in the construction industry. The administration requires portable ladders to be positioned so that the side rails expand a minimum of three feet higher than the landing, and the side rails must be secured to a firm support at the top. If the three-foot expansion cannot be achieved, workers need use a grab device. Every time that a ladder is used it must be inspected for defective, cracked or broken parts. Furthermore, employers and workers must ensure that the burden applied to the ladder does not cause the ladder to slip off the supports, and the burden applied cannot exceed the capacity of the ladder.

Employees who are injured in falls from construction ladders might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits under North Carolina law. Injured workers who need more information about how to file a claim for benefits could talk to their employers, Industrial Commission representatives or attorneys who have experience in these matters.

Source: OSHA, "Preventing Falls", November 12, 2014

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