Use Three Points-of-Contact to Reduce Ladder Falls

· by Bill Oeffinger

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Falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 20% of work-related fall injuries involve ladders. Factors contributing to falls from ladders include haste, sudden movement, lack of attention, the condition of the ladder (worn or damaged), the user’s age or physical condition and the user’s footwear. Improper climbing posture creates user clumsiness that also leads to falls.

When climbing a ladder, it is safest to utilize three points-of-contact to minimize the chance of slipping and falling from the ladder. At all times during ascent, descent and working, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs and/or side rails.

Tips for Safely Climbing a Ladder

Here’s some instruction from the American Ladder Institute on the recommended three-point-of-contact method of climbing ladders:

  • Wear slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles to prevent foot fatigue
  • Clean the soles of shoes to maximize traction
  • Use towlines, a tool belt or an assistant to convey materials so the climbers hands are free when climbing
  • Climb slowly and deliberately while avoiding sudden movements
  • Never attempt to move a ladder while standing on it
  • Keep the center of your belt buckle (stomach) between the ladder side rails while climbing and working. Do not overreach or lean while working.

Following these tips will help a climber stay stable if one limb slips during the climb. Climbers should not carry any objects that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder, or the three points-of-contact will be lost.