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Working at Heights | Hazards and Control Measures 2023 EHS guide

Working at Heights fall protection scaffolding ladder
Working at Heights | Hazards and Control Measures 2020

Working at Heights | Hazards and Control Measures 2023

Working at height possess high risk and most of the fatalities recorded worldwide due to failure of fall protection measures. 2023, its ninth consecutive year, Fall Protection declared as most cited OHSA violation. The agency announced  in National Safety Council 2023 Congress & Expo

The National Security Council and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) have stated that the top 10 are as often as possible related to the violation of the well-being of the work environment during the 2019 Monetary year where most of the accidents happened due to noncompliance of Fall protection system , unsafe scaffolding, unsafe use of ladder and lack of training on fall protection.

Below list published by OHSA for the year 2020.
  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolding
  4. Lockout / Tagout
  5. Respiratory protection
  6. Ladders
  7. Industrial trucks
  8. Fall protection: training requirements
  9. Guarding of machine
  10. Personal protective and rescue/lifesaving equipment - Eye and face protection

Above these identified violations alerting employees to find a way to detect and resolve perceived risk control measures.

OSHA working at heights standard

OSHA working at heights standard

  • Workers will be authorized to work on these surfaces just when the surfaces have the essential quality, structural integrity and adequate strength.
  • A walking / working surface of 1.8 m or more above a lower level must be protected against falls by using railing, safety net or individual fall arrester aid.
  • Any worker who erect a leading edge of 1.8 m or progressively above the lower levels protected against falls by using railing, safety net or individual fall arrester/protection aid.
  • If a handrail is chosen to protect against falls and a controlled access area has just been defined for the work at edge, the command line can be used instead of a handrail along the edge parallel to the main edge.
  • Each worker in a crane man basket/hoist/ cradle must be protected from a fall of 1.8 m or more at lower levels by railing or full body harness.
  • Each worker on a work surface must be protected against tripping or walking through openings in or through openings.

Working at heights procedure requirement

It’s better to perform all activities on the ground where possible. However, fall prevention and protection must be implemented whenever working above ground especially at height more than 1.8m above reference level is inevitable.

Working at height Fall protection

Working at height Fall protection
Working at height Fall protection

Fall protection measures including edge protection, guardrail system, fence, barricade or cover must be utilized as the primary fall protection systems for holes, pits, shafts and other openings. In addition, fall protection system is required when working at levels with an unprotected side or edge. Appropriate PPE required for each work shall be determined based on the level of exposure and shall be listed in the permit to work.

Working at height Fall prevention system

Workers with health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, psychosis, epileptic, or any of such diseases should be considered unfit for working at height.

Weather conditions should be assessed before the commencement of any height related activities. This assessment must be included as part of the safe job analysis. Permit shall not be issued for work at heights during adverse weather and if permit was already issued, it must cancel.

Identification of fall hazards and risk control in workplace during working at height

In addition to planned height related activities, regular reviews and inspections of the site should be carried out to identify potential sources of fall hazards. All these sources must be recorded and followed up until adequate controls are provided to eliminate the hazard

When a high-risk fall hazard is identified during routines inspection, corrective and preventive measures must be established immediately before the work in the area can be allowed to continue.

Work at height fall protection equipment

Fall prevention and protection systems must be installed when working at height. This may include a combination of the followings:
  • Guardrail system
  • Warning line system
  • Safety full body harness
  • Anchorage
  • Connectors
  • Lifeline
  • Self-retracting lifeline / lanyard
  • Shock absorber, i.e. shock-absorbing lanyard
  • Snap hook

Maintenance and inspection of fall protection equipment

All personal fall protection equipment must be stored in a dedicated area where their integrity can be ensured.

Inspection of this equipment should follow a formal monthly schedule in addition to pre-use visual inspection by the user for wear, damage or other signs of deterioration.

Defective equipment must be removed from service immediately if any of the following signs are observed during inspection:
  • Cuts and tears
  • Undue stretching
  • Alterations or additions
  • Deterioration from acid, fire, or other sources
  • Distorted hooks, or parts
  • Faulty hook springs

All personal fall safety equipment subject to maintenance according to regulations and the manufacturer instructions.

Working at height Guardrail Systems

Working at height Guardrail Systems
Working at height Guardrail Systems

Permanent guardrails are often constructed as part of stairways, landings, work platforms, and equipment access platforms. Where short-term fall hazards exist, temporary guardrails are used.

Guardrails must meet certain requirements so be compliant with regulatory standards and it must consist of a top rail, mid rail and toe board. The top rail needs to be between 900 and 1000 mm above the working surface (or ground), and capable of withstanding 100 Kg or 0.980 Kn of force downward or outward.

Similarly, a guardrail’s mid rail must be capable of withstanding 70 Kg of force downward or outward. The toe board must cover and protect a height of 10 cm above the working surface and be capable of withstanding 22.5 Kgs or 0.222 Kn of force downward or outward. There must not be more than a 5mm gap between the bottom of the toe board and the working surface.

When tools, equipment or materials such as bricks are piled higher than the top edge of a toe board, paneling, screening or safety nets must be used from the working surface or toe board to the top of the mid- or top-rail.

Working at height temporary warning

Consisting of ropes, wires, chains and supporting props, temporary warning lines are designed for short-term hazards. They must be flagged at least every 1.8m with high-visibility material, and signage must be posted indicating controlled access during construction. Warning lines are required to be no lower than 850mm and no higher than 900mm from the walking surface.

Working at height toolbox talk and warning monitor

Before start of work at height, toolbox talk must be conducted to make aware all involved persons about identified hazards, risk and control measures. Warning monitors are competent personnel assigned to keep others away from a fall hazard, and they should only be utilized when all other means of fall protection are not possible. Warning monitors must not have any other duties in addition to keeping people away from the fall hazard.

Click here to know more about workers perception

Working at height Fall Restraint Systems

Fall restraint system inhibits a person to prevent them from falling. Fall restraint systems comprise anchorages, connectors, body belts/harnesses, lanyards, lifelines and rope grabs. Anchorage points must be capable of withstand four times the expected load and must be ridged to prevent vertical free fall if the person slips.

Working at height Fall Arrest Systems

Fall arrest systems minimizes the injury to person from a free fall. Fall arrester equipment must be used correctly to prevent injury. Fall arrest equipment incorporates body support devices i.e. harnesses, lanyards and anchorages.

Working at height Body Support Devices

Working at height Body Support Devices
Working at height Body Support Devices

Body support devices are designed to place the arresting force of a fall on the strongest parts of the body. Types of body support devices are waist belts, chest harnesses and sub-pelvic full body harnesses. Waist belts are designed to be used as restraints only. They have an average of two minutes of endurance. Chest harnesses are designed for rescue and restraint and have an average of six minutes of endurance. Sub-pelvic full body harnesses average ten minutes of endurance and, of the three, are the optimal type for fall arrest.

Even after an individual is caught from a fall by a fall arrest system, they aren’t out of danger. Within 15 to 20 minutes, suspension from a harness causes blood to pool in the legs, eventually making the suspended individual pass out. The non-circulating blood in the legs then loses oxygen and becomes toxic, a dangerous condition known as suspension trauma, also known as harness hang syndrome (HHS), or orthostatic intolerance.

To prevent suspension trauma the best practice is to utilize a body harness with suspension trauma straps that the individual can use to hook their feet into and push their body upward, allowing their blood to continue circulating.

Working at height Lanyards

Lanyards hook is supporting the body and are intended to stretch when loaded. The stretch slows down the impact speed and arresting the force when the person/wearer falls. A typical lanyard harness is rated for a total capacity of 140 Kg pounds. Proper length lanyard must be chosen for the job. If it is too long then it cannot prevent the falling person from hitting surfaces or objects below them. As for the lanyard’s snap-hook device, only self-enclosing and self-locking types should be used, and two lanyards snap hooks should never be connected together.

Working at height Anchorages

Fall arrest equipment is connected to an anchorage point, which supports the equipment and the individual in the event of a fall. In certain countries, it is required that any anchorage point used for attachment of personal fall arrest equipment must be independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms.

Different anchorages consist of cross-arm straps for covering around structural members, driven anchorage points fasten temporarily or permanently to the fixed structure, concrete anchors are generally drilled into the concrete floors or walls, and bar anchors that bridge an opening.

Working at height |Scaffolding safety

Working at height |scaffolding safety
Working at height |scaffolding safety

All types of scaffolding must be installed by competent and certified personnel.
All scaffolding under erection or awaiting approval must carried boldly written signs indicating that they are not fit for usage. A harness must be worn when working at heights where there is a danger of falling.

Before starting the construction of the scaffolding, the following should have been evaluated and ensure that:
  • The user and the scaffolder should agree on the dimensions of the scaffolding (area and load dimensions).
  • Must notify to the site safety specialist and he must approve the activity after review of risk assessment carried out jointly by job executor.
  • Review of potential conflict with other equipment has been carried out for;
    • electrical equipment
    • escape routes
    • access to safety equipment

The scaffold must be completed in such a manner that falls to lower levels are prevented. This could be done by implementing one or more of the following:
  • Mounting handrails and kick-boards
  • Securing tools and other items
  • Attaching a safety net, if necessary
  • Considering/erecting barriers and signs
  • Using certified scaffolding only.

Scaffolding Training, Competency and Supervision for working at height

  • Scaffolding may only be erected, maintained, altered or dismantled under the strict personal supervision of a competent Scaffolding Supervisor (or Scaffolding Inspector) who has been appointed in writing.
  • Scaffolding may only be erected, maintained, altered or dismantled by competent and appointed Scaffolding Erectors (or Scaffolding Builders). It is the Scaffolding Supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that all persons carrying out such work are suitably trained and experienced.
  • A certificate of competency issued by a reputable (i.e. accredited and approved,) training provider must be produced for each Scaffolding Erector.
  • A Scaffolding Supervisor and Inspector shall be trained and approved by CITB (UK).

Safety measures during erection and dismantling of Scaffold

  • Only approved scaffolding components may be used to erect a scaffold. Scaffolding must be erected, modified and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines or recommendations, and in strict compliance with all applicable legislation and standards.
  • A free-standing scaffold must not exceed a height of three times the smallest dimension of its base.
  • Scaffolds with a height to base width ratio of more than 3:1 must be restrained from tipping over by guying, tying, or bracing. Guy wires and ties prevent scaffolding from tipping away from the building or structure, and braces are rigid supports that prevent the scaffolding from tipping into the building or structure.
  • Scaffolding must be secured to the structure every 6 meter vertically and every 9 meters horizontally (as a minimum). Adequate underpinning, sills or footplates must be provided for scaffolds erected on filled or otherwise soft ground (including sand or gravel).
  • If the scaffolding is to be load bearing (i.e. other than normal access and workplace storage) then full calculations and a design must be prepared and authorized in writing by a structural engineer. The load limits specified by the scaffolding manufacturer may not be exceeded under any circumstances.
  • Scaffolds must be plumb and level at all times.
  • All scaffolding components must be in good condition (i.e. undamaged and free of corrosion).
  • All scaffolding components must be properly connected or secured and scaffolding must be effectively braced (diagonal bracing).
  • Each person erecting, maintaining, altering or dismantling scaffolding must use fall protection at all times (i.e. a full body safety harness with two shock absorbing lanyards fitted with scaffold hooks).
  • The work must be planned to enable every Scaffolding Erector to be securely anchored at all times.
  • A suitable lanyard length (not exceeding 2 meter) must be selected taking the potential fall distance and height of attachment (height of anchorage point) into account. If the lanyard is too long or the anchorage point is too low, the person may hit the ground, a platform, or objects below him before the lanyard is able to break his fall.
  • The area around the base of a scaffold must be barricaded to prevent unauthorized access into the work area. When scaffolding is erected or dismantled on a level, platform, or floor lying above ground level and the potential exists for components to fall to levels below the level on which the scaffolding is positioned, then the area directly below the scaffolding on each of those levels must also be barricaded. Appropriate warning signage (i.e. “Overhead Work in Progress” and “No Unauthorized Access”) must be prominently displayed.
  • Hoists, lifts and approved material baskets must be used (where available) to lift scaffolding components to elevated positions.
  • Where components are passed from hand to hand during the erection or dismantling of a scaffold, each Scaffolding Erector must always stand on three boards and not directly above the person below him. During this process, each Scaffolding Erector must remain within the confines of the scaffold and must expose as little of his body as possible to minimize the risk of being struck by a falling component. Good communication between team members must be maintained at all times.
  • No scaffolding components, tools, or any other material may be dropped from height or thrown from one level to another. Components, tools and materials must be lowered or lifted in a controlled manner. Use may be made of a chute.
  • Each tool must be secured to the wrist, harness or structure by means of a lanyard. A tool bag (around the waist or over the shoulder) may be used for carrying tools up and down a scaffold structure. Tools or equipment may not be carried by hand up or down a structure, as both hands must be used for climbing. If necessary, a rope must be used for lifting or lowering tools or equipment.
  • While a scaffold is being erected or dismantled, no scaffolding components may be stacked on the scaffold structure unless it has been designed for that purpose. Any loading of a scaffold structure must be authorized in writing by a structural engineer.
  • For special scaffolding (i.e. load bearing scaffolding), a design must be prepared by the appointed Scaffolding Supervisor and this design must be authorized in writing by a structural engineer before the scaffolding is erected.
  • Scaffolding may not stand on steel grating unless the grating is adequately supported from below. Scaffolding must rather stand on the structure that supports the grating.
  • Empty drums, crates or bricks may not be used to prop up, support or anchor scaffolding.
  • Before scaffolding is erected in close proximity to an electrical installation or live conductors, an electrical engineer must inspect the area and determine whether or not the scaffolding must be earthed. Should the scaffolding require earthing, this must be done as soon as possible while the scaffolding is being erected.
  • Scaffolding may not be erected if it is raining, in winds stronger than 35km/h, or if any lightning is observed.
  • A green tag (displaying the words, “Scaffold Safe for Use”) or a red tag (displaying the words, “Danger: Do Not Use Scaffold”) must be prominently displayed on each scaffold at all times. The tag must be positioned close to the base of the ladder or staircase provided for safe access. The wording on the tags must be in English and any other language commonly used on site.
  • As a minimum, a green tag must display the Scaffolding Supervisor’s name, the date that the scaffold was erected, and the date that the scaffold was last inspected.
  • Only an appointed Scaffolding Supervisor may attach, change, update the information on, or remove these tags

Precautions during special conditions for leaving unattended unsafe scaffold

Scaffold Must be:
  • Left partially erected or partially dismantled except for normal work stoppages (for example, over weekends) and then, at the very least, the scaffolding must be adequately braced to ensure that it does not present a hazard;
  • Left in an unsafe condition (if scaffolding is unavoidably in an unsafe condition, barricading must be in place to prevent unauthorized access and the required red tags must be prominently displayed on the scaffold structure); or
  • Moved or altered while work is in progress.

Mobile scaffolding safety

  • Mobile scaffolding must be equipped with brakes, which must be engaged at all times when the scaffolding is in use.
  • A scaffold must not be moved if any person is on the structure.

Safe Access to Scaffolding

  • Safe and convenient access must be provided to every scaffold platform by means of properly installed ladders or approved stairways, which must remain unobstructed at all times. Climbing up or down a scaffold on the braces or ledgers is forbidden.
  • All ladders used to access scaffolding must be securely attached to the scaffold structure.
  • Hook-on and attachable ladders must be specifically designed for use with the type of scaffolding being used.
  • If a ladder is used to access a scaffold platform at a height greater than 1.5 meter above the ground, then the ladder must be secured internally (i.e. within the scaffold structure) and there must be an opening (closed with a trap-door) in the platform at the top of the ladder.
  • If the scaffold platform is at a height of less than 1.5 meter above the ground, then the ladder may be attached externally provided the guard rails around the platform are modified to allow access (the opening in the guard rails must be kept closed using a self-closing gate). No person may climb over or through the guard rails to gain access to a platform.
  • If a vertical ladder used on scaffolding is more than 5 meters in length it must be equipped with a ladder cage extending from a point 2 meter from the base of the ladder to a height of 1 meter above the platform (or the uppermost platform) that the ladder is providing access to.
  • Circular ladder cages must have an internal diameter of no more than 700mm. Square ladder cages must have internal dimensions of no more than 700mm by 700mm.
  • The requirement for a ladder cage may be waived if platforms are provided at height intervals not exceeding 8 meters, with the vertical ladder secured on the inside of the scaffolding framework and an opening (closed with a trapdoor) in each platform.
  • Vertical ladders must be braced at three-meter intervals (as a minimum) to prevent undue movement.
  • All vertical ladders providing access to a platform must be left in place for as long as the scaffold remains in place and must be inspected as part of the scaffold structure.

Safe Scaffolding Platforms | Deck board

  • Safe work platforms must be provided.
  • Every work platform must be complete (i.e. from ledger to ledger and from transom to transom without any gaps) in order to prevent personnel, materials, tools, etc. from falling through the platform.
  • Every work platform must be constructed from manufactured steel scaffold boards (planks) of equal thickness (height). Timber boards are not permitted under any circumstances.
  • Each steel scaffold board must be securely hooked (fastened) onto the ledgers or transoms that support it.
  • On all sides, every scaffold platform must be provided with
    • Sturdy guard rails positioned 500mm above the platform floor (the mid rail) and 1000mm above the platform floor (the top rail); and
    • Steel toe boards that are at least 150mm high and securely attached such that no gap exists between the toe boards and the platform floor.
    • Note: Wire mesh infill panels incorporating a toe board may be used instead of a mid-rail.
  • Scaffold platforms must be as close to the structure as is practicable.
  • Scaffold platforms must, at all times, be kept free of waste, protruding objects, and any other obstructions. Platforms must be cleaned if necessary to ensure that they are maintained in a non-slip state.

Inspection of Scaffolding

  • Every scaffold structure must be inspected by a competent Scaffolding Supervisor:
    • Prior to use after erection, and at least weekly thereafter;
    • After inclement weather (heavy rain, strong winds, etc.);
    • After any incident resulting in jarring, tilting or overloading;
    • After any alteration is made; and
    • Before being dismantled.
  • On completion of an inspection, the Scaffolding Supervisor must update the information on the scaffold tag.
  • A record of each inspection (date and time of inspection, location of scaffolding, findings, etc.) must be captured in a register. The register(s) must be maintained by the Scaffolding Supervisor(s) carrying out the inspections.

Scaffolding Components or Parts - Identification and Inspection

  • All scaffolding components belonging to a contractor must be properly marked or uniquely coloured to enable positive identification.
  • Prior to erecting a scaffold, all scaffolding components must be carefully inspected by a competent Scaffolding Supervisor.
  • Components found to be defective during an inspection must be conspicuously marked and removed to a suitably demarcated quarantine area for destruction, repair, refurbishment or removal from site.
  • Deformed and bent wedges must be straightened and inspected for cracks before being put back into service.

Safety in scaffolding uses | Responsibility of user | Scaffolding Do and Don’t

  • The user of a scaffold (i.e. the responsible supervisor) must inspect the erected structure prior to acceptance and must ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that the scaffold is safe and fit for purpose before allowing his team to make use of the scaffold.

In particular, the user must ensure that:
  • The scaffold and the platforms have been constructed to meet the loading requirements of the work that is to be carried out (the Scaffolding Supervisor must be consulted in this regard);
  • The Scaffolding Supervisor has checked that adequate ties and braces are in place;

  • The work platforms are in the correct positions and are complete with toe boards and guard rails;
  • Safe and convenient access has been provided (ladders and / or stairways); and
  • A green (“Scaffold Safe for Use”) tag has been attached to the scaffold by the Scaffolding Supervisor.
  • Use of an incomplete or unsafe scaffold is prohibited.
  • Unsteady or non-rigid scaffolds must not be used and inadequacies must be reported to, and rectified by, the responsible Scaffolding Supervisor.
  • The user of a scaffold must ensure that every person in his team is aware that no alterations to the scaffold may be made by the team during the course of their work, and that if any alterations are required, they must be made by competent Scaffolding Erectors under the supervision of an appointed Scaffolding Supervisor.

  • A scaffold may not be used:
    • If a red tag is displayed indicating that the scaffold is not safe to use; or
    • During inclement weather, defined as wind speeds greater than 40km/h, thunderstorms, or heavy rain in excess of 40mm/h.
  •  The area around the base of a scaffold must be appropriately barricaded to prevent unauthorized access into the work area.
  • Appropriate warning signage must be prominently displayed.
  • Loose tools and / or materials on scaffold platforms must be secured using lanyards, wire or fiber rope, or must be placed in secured containers.
  • Where appropriate, “catch nets” deemed may be installed as an additional safety measure to prevent materials or tools from falling to the ground.
  • The storage or placement of materials on scaffolding platforms must be kept to a minimum. Debris as well as tools and materials that are no longer required must be removed from all working platforms at least once per day.
  • Scaffolding platforms must be cleaned regularly.
  • A heavy load may not be placed on a scaffolding platform unless the scaffold has been designed and constructed specifically for that purpose. Any loading of a scaffold structure must be authorized in writing by a structural engineer.
  • Scaffolds may not be used as hoisting towers or to support piping or equipment.
  • Each person working from scaffolding must wear fall protection (i.e. a full body safety harness with two shock absorbing lanyards fitted with scaffold hooks) and must be securely anchored at all times.
  • All work must be carried out from properly constructed work platforms. Standing on railings or braces in order to perform work is forbidden.
  • Drums, boxes and other makeshift substitutes for scaffolding may not be used under any circumstances.
  • Where work on an electrical system is to be undertaken from a scaffold, an electrical engineer must determine whether or not the scaffolding structure requires bonding and earthing. The scaffolding may not be used until this has been determined, and if required, until the structure has been bonded and earthed.
  • Specially designed and constructed scaffolding can take maximum loads greater than 240kg/m2, such as masonry work, piping or equipment, and is classified as a special scaffold.

Storage of Scaffolding Components or parts

  • All scaffolding components must be stored in a demarcated storage area in such a manner that they are not exposed to environmental extremes and will not cause injury to persons. Suitable barricading or fencing must be erected and warning signage must be posted (e.g. No Unauthorized Entry).
  • Within a storage area, scaffolding components must be stacked such that pathways (750mm in width) are maintained between the stacks. Each stack must be stable and components must be neatly placed to ensure that no ends protrude into any pathway. The various components must be stacked separately.
  • The weight of scaffolding components must be considered when stacking them in elevated positions.
  • Any storage area for scaffolding components must be positioned such that it will not interfere with any onsite activity (including the operation of any plant or equipment), block any access way, or obstruct access to any plant or equipment.

Ladders Safety | Working at heights

Ladders Safety | Working at heights
Ladders Safety | Working at heights

Ladders may be used for carrying out simple jobs, however with approval, adequate controls and supervision by experienced personnel. Ladders, when approved for use, must always be secured to ensure they do not slip during operation and they must be laid flat on the identified storage area when not in use.

Portable ladder safety | Portable Ladders Hazard and risk control

  • A formal and documented risk assessment must show that no practical alternatives exist before a ladder can be used.
  • A good handhold must be available all the time
  • Ladders must be checked by the user for general condition prior to each use.
  • Use of Ladder must be followed in accordance to the manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations.
  • Due to product specification changes that may occur, the users when in doubt should always consult the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • If the ladder is found to be unsafe, it must be tagged out and removed from site immediately and destroyed.
  • Do not use the top two rungs on a step ladder. All portable extension ladders shall extend a minimum of 36 inches (1 meter) past the area to be accessed.
  • Three-point contact must be maintained at all times when climbing a ladder.
  • Equipment and/or materials must not be carried up a ladder. A rope may be utilized to transport equipment and/or materials.

Extension ladder safety | Extension Ladders Hazard and risk control

Extension ladder safety
Extension ladder safety

  • Extension ladders must be tied off (secured) at the top and bottom at all times unless the ladder is being used for short duration work and is being stabilized by another worker.
  • One worker must hold the ladder while another worker climbs and secures the ladder. Only then can the worker stabilizing the ladder let go of the ladder.
  • Extension ladders must not be taken apart to use the extension as a second ladder as no swivel feet are on this section of the ladder.

Portable ladder Safety for Short term work

Workers performing “light duty work” from a portable ladder at a height of 6 feet or greater, where the ladder will be at any one spot for sporadic, short-term work must follow the guideline below:
  • The work should be reached without stretching
  • The worker must have one hand available to hold on to the ladder or other support to maintain three points of contact.
  • The ladder should not be positioned near an edge of excavation or floor opening that would significantly increase the potential fall distance.
  • Only non-conductive ladders shall be used for electrical work or work being performed in proximity to energized electrical equipment. Metal ladders and ladders with metal reinforcing may not be used.
  • The use of makeshift ladders is forbidden.

2020 General Ladder safety Tips

  • All ladders must be numbered, listed in a register, and inspected by a competent person on a monthly basis (the results of each inspection must be recorded in the register).
  • Before using a ladder, the user must inspect it for damage.
  • Ladders with missing, broken, cracked or loose rungs, split stiles, missing or broken spreaders (stepladders) or any other form of damage or defect must not be used.
  • A damaged ladder must be removed from service (and tagged, “Out of Service”) without delay and must then either be repaired (if possible) or destroyed to prevent further use.
  • Persons must receive instruction or training on the correct use and proper care of ladders.
  • Ladders may only be used as a means of access and egress. The use of ladders as working platforms is prohibited, except for inspection and carrying out minor tasks (i.e. light work and short duration) such as changing a light bulb.
  • Ladders must not be positioned horizontally and used as walkways or runways or as scaffolding.
  • All portable ladders must be fitted with non-skid safety feet (or some other means to prevent the base of the ladder from slipping) and the feet must always be placed (stand) on a firm level surface.
  • The use of bricks, stones, wood or any other material to level the stiles of a ladder is prohibited.
  • Ladders may not be placed on movable bases such as boxes, tables, trucks, etc.
  • The base or foot of a ladder must always be secured to prevent it from slipping. The ladder must be held by an assistant if the base cannot be secured in any other way (e.g. tied off).
  • A straight ladder must extend at least one meter beyond its support (or above the working platform that it is providing access to). The top of the ladder must be tied off (or otherwise secured to its support) to prevent accidental movement.
  • A straight ladder must be placed at a safe angle, i.e. tilted at a ratio of approximately 4:1, meaning that the base of the ladder must be one meter away from the wall (or other vertical surface) for every four meters of height to the point of support.

Straight ladder 4:1 rule
Straight ladder 4:1 rule

  • A stepladder may never be used as a straight ladder. A stepladder must be opened fully and the spreaders must be locked securely.
  • When using an extension ladder, at least four rungs must always overlap at the centre of the ladder.
  • Ladders may not be joined together unless they have been specifically designed and manufactured for that purpose.
  • A suspended ladder (i.e. not standing on a base) must be attached in a secure manner to prevent undue swinging or swaying, and to ensure that it cannot be displaced.
  • A ladder may not be placed against a window, glass or any other material which is unlikely to withstand the force exerted on it by the top of the ladder.
  • A ladder may not be placed in front of a door or window that opens towards the ladder unless the door or window has been locked or barricaded.
  • When a ladder is used near an entrance or exit, the base of the ladder must be barricaded.
  • Materials and / or equipment may not be placed in close proximity to the base or landing of any ladder.
  • When ascending or descending a ladder, a person must always face the ladder and use both hands (i.e. maintain three points of contact).
  • Nothing may be carried up or down a ladder if it prevents the person from holding on to the ladder with both hands.
  • Tools must always be properly secured. This can be achieved by attaching them to the wrist using lanyards or placing them in a tool belt around the waist.
  • Tools and materials may also be carried in a bag over the shoulder or hoisted to the landing using a tool bag and rope.
  • Only one person at a time may use (i.e. be positioned on) a ladder.
  • No person may stand or step above the third rung from the top of a straight ladder or above the second highest step of a stepladder.
  • Overreaching from a ladder is prohibited. If the target is not within comfortable reach, the person must climb down and reposition the ladder.
  • No person may run up or down a ladder, or jump from the lower rungs or steps to the ground. All ladders must be properly maintained and cared for.
  • Ladders must be stored under cover and should be hung in a horizontal position from several brackets.
  • No ladder may be left lying on the ground or be left exposed to the weather. A ladder left lying on the ground presents a tripping hazard and it may be damaged by vehicles running over it.
  • No ladder may be left in such a position where it may fall over, be accidentally knocked over, or be blown over by the wind.
  • Ladders may not be painted, as the paint may conceal damage, defects, labels or other markings.
  • Instead of paint, clear varnish or wood oil may be used to preserve wooden ladders.
  • Ladders must be kept clean, as dirt may conceal damage or defects. Oil or grease accumulation on the rungs of a ladder may cause a person to slip.
  • Before making use of a ladder, each person must make an effort to remove mud, oil, grease, etc. from his boots.

Working at height dropped objects prevention

The following should be followed to prevent dropped objects when working at height where dropped objects hazard has been identified in a formal and documented risk assessment.
  • All tools, materials required for use at height must be secured in tool bags and or boxes.
  • No tools or materials should be delivered by throwing to anyone working at height.
  • All heavy tools or materials which are required by those working at height must be delivered through a safe path or specific lifting facilities.
  • Pilling up of materials on the scaffold in a manner that may lead to drop objects is strictly prohibited.
  • At the end of every height related operations, the removal of tools, materials, PPE and other items used at height must be removed through a safe path.


Working at height is risky job and require intensive safety measures to safeguard the persons. OHSA and National Safety Council declared that most of accident occurred worldwide due to failure in fall protection standards. These incidences alerting employers to assure safety measures while working at height. By ensuring best safety standard in workplace while working at height viz. safe scaffolding, safe ladders, edge fall protections, lifeline, full body harness, hazard identification, risk management, supervision and engaging competent workmen, accidents can be prevented.

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You may find affiliate links in this article. This means that if you click on a link and purchase any of the products on this page, we may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you, It does not affect our knowledge sharing, opinions or reviews. Everything we do is benefit for you as the reader, so all our knowledge sharing, reviews are as honest and unbiased as possible.

1 comment:

  1. I liked the important safety details as per the OSHA standards that you have shared here and though these things are fine and all my employees also stick to the safety standards I still believe that discussing the height safety inspection ( ) rules and how to meet them properly should be properly discussed with everyone and it should be done from time to time. I will share this post with my employees in the office. I liked this post. Thank you.


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