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What Are the Top Three OSHA-Cited Ladder Violations?

Posted on May 8, 2024

Ladders are a workplace staple for jobs in many industries, including construction, warehouse work, painting, landscaping, and many more.

In high-risk industries such as construction, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials sometimes make surprise inspections, checking for violations of safety standards that could put employees at risk.

Surprisingly, ladder violations rank third on OSHA’s list of most commonly cited violations. Three of the most common violations of OSHA standards are easily avoidable when employers and employees adhere to the safety standards for using ladders in the workplace.

What Are the Three Most Common Ladder Violations in the Workplace According to OSHA?

Under OSHA Standard 1926.1053, the administration defines the safety standards for all workplace ladders, including those made on the job. The standards put weight-bearing requirements in place for fixed, portable, and self-supporting ladders. The three most commonly cited violations include the following:

1. Using ladders that haven’t been properly inspected

Ladder inspections must include checking for visible damage, ensuring that employees use the correct type of ladder for the job, that it’s equipped with non-skid feet, and isn’t bearing weights beyond its maximum allowable load. Those using the ladder must have received training in its proper use.

2. Improper Use of a Ladder

When employees aren’t using a ladder in the way it was intended according to its instructions, or in a manner inconsistent with its intended purpose, it’s a violation of OSHA standards. For instance, some employees sit on the top steps platforms of step ladders. Misusing a ladder can result in serious injuries. Employees must receive proper training on using a ladder strictly within its intended use.

3. Using a Ladder for a Purpose for Which It Wasn’t Designed

Employees must not use a ladder for any other purpose other than that for which it was designed. For example, a ladder shouldn’t be used as a hanger for equipment, as a scaffold, or as a brace for holding up boards, equipment, or any other items.

Other Important Safety Standards for Ladders in the Workplace

OSHA has other standards in place for ladders in the workplace including the following:

  • Ladder rungs must be corrugated or have non-slip surfaces if manufactured after 1991
  • Stepladders must have properly functioning latching devices
  • Ladders must never be tied together as a means of extension
  • Ladder components must not have a rough surface that could snag clothing or cause scratches or scraps
  • Wooden ladders must not have any opaque coatings except for warning or instruction stickers

Ladders must adhere to OSHA requirements for rung length, distances between rungs, and other standards. Most work equipment manufacturers produce ladders that meet OSHA standards.

Lack of Proper Employee Training Is the Most Common Cause of OSHA Ladder Violations

Employers must provide proper training for employees who use ladders in the workplace. Training must include:

  • Training on overall ladder safety
  • How to use each type of ladder properly
  • How to regularly and properly inspect and maintain ladders

Ultimately, an employer is responsible for ensuring their employees rigidly adhere to all OSHA standards, including those for the proper usage of ladders and ladder safety training.

What Are the Penalties for OSHA Ladder Violations?

OSHA can fine employers up to $16,131 for violations and impose greater fines for repeat or purposeful violations of safety standards, including for unsafe ladder use on job sites.

What To Do If You’ve Been Injured

If you have been seriously injured from a work injury, get in touch with a Philadelphia work injury attorney today. They can help you protect your rights and fight for the compensation that you deserve.