If your job duties require you to climb onto ladders, it can be easy to forget about the inherent dangers they present. Still, falls are so common and so serious in the U.S. that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers them to be one of the “Fatal Four” workplace accidents.
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, falls from ladders are responsible for more than 164,000 emergency room visits every single year. Memorizing the four-to-one ladder rule may keep you from suffering a catastrophic injury.
For your ladder to be as secure as possible, you should place its feet 1 foot from the wall for every 4 feet of height. For example, if your ladder stretches 20 feet up a wall, its feet should be 5 feet from the base of the wall.
If your ladder is steeper than the four-to-one rule allows for, you may not be stable when climbing on it. Moreover, if your ladder is less steep, it can collapse when you put your full weight onto it.
The four-to-one rule is only one part of the ladder-safety equation, of course. When using a ladder, you also should keep three points of body contact with it. This means you should have at least two hands and one foot or one foot and two hands on the ladder at all times.
Even if you always remember to use the four-to-one ladder rule and maintain three points of contact, you may not be able to completely eliminate your accident risk. If you do sustain a major injury in a fall at work, you could be eligible for valuable workers’ compensation benefits.