By Peter Simeonov, PhD; Vern Putz-Anderson, PhD, CPE; and Donna Pfirman

In 2014, work-related falls to a lower level in the wholesale and retail trade (WRT) sector accounted for over 12,500 reported injuries. These injured employees were out of work for an average of 7 to 11 days [BLS 2015, BLS 2016]. This blog provides information about preventing ladder-related injuries in the wholesale and retail trade sector.

The most common type of fall to a lower level in the wholesale and retail trade sector is from a portable ladder. While providing customer service can tempt employees in retail to work quickly, it is important that they do not put service before safety. Taking time, not rushing, and watching one’s step is critical to preventing falls from ladders. Falls can cause back injuries, sprains, strains, contusions, fractures, severe head injuries, paralysis, and even death.

In 2014, 20 employees working in wholesale and retail trade sector died from incidents attributed to the use of ladders, mostly portable ladders, such as step and extension ladders [BLS 2017]. Below are some recognized safety procedures that are used in working with portable ladders.

Setting up the ladder

When using portable ladders, users must follow two important steps. First, inspect the ladder to be sure that all rungs or steps are in place and secure. Second, inspect the floor surface where each foot or rail contacts the floor. This surface needs to be level, dry, and clean.

For a free-standing portable ladder, such as a step ladder, make sure it is fully open, the spreaders are correctly secured, and all four feet are in contact with the floor.

For a ladder that is not free-standing, such as a single or extension ladder, position it against a nearby vertical surface, railing, or shelf that is secure. It is important to avoid...Click here to read the rest of the blog post.