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Ladder Safety: Protecting Workers from a Complex Hazard

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By Stanford Liang, Tetra Tech

Presented at SSPC 2017; Session: Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulations; Session chair: Stan Liang

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It is well known that fall hazards are one of the most common causes of accidents, injuries and death in the workplace including industrial painting projects. Many of these falls occur when using ladders. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, in 2009 20% of fatal falls in all workplaces were from ladders. OSHA estimates that there are 24,882 injuries resulting from the use of ladders, with nearly half of those injuries serious enough to result in lost work time, and 36 fatalities every year. Controlling fall hazards from ladders is important not only to protect worker health and safety but also to address the risk of OSHA citations. In 2014, citation of 29 CFR 1926.1053 (OSHA Construction Industry Ladder Standard) was the seventh most cited OSHA standard. In addition to the regulatory penalties, ladder accidents result in increased worker compensation costs, lost productivity, and also loss of business opportunities, as many facility owners in private industry will not use contractors with accident rates above the industry average. To control worker exposure to this hazard, employers must implement a comprehensive safety program that addresses both the underlying causes of ladder hazards and the OSHA regulatory requirements. This presentation illustrates the complexity of ladder hazards and OSHA regulatory requirements and the elements of a program that, by addressing these complexities, will be more effective in controlling worker exposure to these hazards.


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