People have been using step ladders for hundreds of years and people have been falling off of ladders for hundreds of years. Ladders have historically and continue to be the greatest cause of workplace and home related injuries. Ladders are also a major contributor to workers back pain and permanent back damage. With dozens of safer options on the market, Canada’s CSA has begun recommending some of those options to Canadian companies. OSHA also has these same concerns and is following this trend.
Each year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collects work-related injury and illness data from employers. This data collection is called the OSHA Data Initiative or ODI.
- 15% of all work related fatalities are the result of falls (stats.bls.gov).
- Slips and falls from step ladders have resulted in the greatest number of missed work days annually since 2002.
- Workers over 35 are the most susceptible to injuries and the chance of injury increases with each decade.
- Two-thirds of hospitalized injury incidents due to falls from ladders resulted in fractures.
- Even with ladders being the number one cause of workplace injury, ladders still cause more injuries at home.
- The rate of injurious falls from ladders in 2004–05 was 18.5 per 100,000 population. (http://www.nisu.flinders.edu.au/pubs/reports/2007/injcat105.pdf)
Scaffolding has been proven to be a safer option and practice. Following proper scaffolding procedure is important in reducing workplace injuries. Tagging and inspecting scaffolding is already required in the workplace.
Many companies have already started banning step ladder use. These companies, adhering to OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) with progressive safety programs, are leading the way to reduce the risk of these work related injury.
For low level applications Canada’s CSA program has recommended the X-Deck safety work platform as a best practice over step ladders. The X-Deck provides all the safety without the need to be tagged and inspected like traditional scaffolding, yet it offers all the speed and portability of a ladder. (See www.safeplatforms.com)
For high level applications, tube and clamp scaffolding has been proven and, with proper tagging and inspecting, is a safe practice. (See www.safway.com)
Scaffolding or the X-Deck will always be a safer option over ladders and these options should be used 100% of the time.