Falls continue to be one of the leading causes of injury and death in construction. Among construction workers, an estimated 81% of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments involve a ladder, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


  • Inspect – A competent person must visually inspect all ladders for any defects before use.
  • Defective Ladders – Remove any defective ladder from service that is tagged as “Do Not Use” or similar language.
  • Maximum load – The ladder must sustain at least four times the maximum intended load.


  • Extend the top of the ladder three feet above the landing and secure it to prevent it from tipping.
  • Maintain three points of contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) when climbing or descending a ladder.
  • Maintain a 4:1 ratio between the working height of the ladder and the base of the ladder.
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or descending.
  • Keep the body inside the side rails.
  • Carry tools in a tool belt or raise tools up using a hand line. Never carry tools in your hands while climbing up or down a ladder.
  • Keep ladders free of any slippery materials.


  • IAA Special Duty Rugged is rated at 375 lbs. capacity.
  • IA Extra Duty Industrial is rated at 300 lbs. capacity.
  • I Heavy Duty Industrial is rated at 250 lbs. capacity.


  • Lean or extend out beyond the ladder’s side rails.
  • Place a ladder on boxes, barrels or unstable bases.
  • Use a ladder on soft ground or unstable footing.
  • Exceed the ladder’s maximum load rating.
  • Tie two ladders together to make them longer.
  • Ignore nearby overhead power lines.
  • Use an extension ladder as a horizontal platform.
  • Use a ladder in any way other than what the manufacturer intended.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.

Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.

Simulation makes puts fall protection training in your hands

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. In 2014, over 300 construction workers died as a result of a fall at work. These deaths were preventable with the proper use of fall prevention and fall protection.

The Master Builders’ Association worked with Simcoach Games to bring fall protection training to the modern day and created an app to train anyone with a Smartphone or tablet. “Harness Hero” is an innovative approach to saving lives in the construction industry and allows you a safe way to practice setting up fall arrest systems.

Learn more and download the simulation today.

New fall prevention infographics raise awareness

OSHA, the National Institute for Safety and Health and Center for Protection of Workers Rights created a series of infographics to aid the National Campaign to Prevent Construction Falls. These images identify risks, provide steps to prevent falls and link to a ladder safety app that can help your crew make better decisions when working at heights. Download them here.

How to Prevent Soft Tissue Injury

Soft tissue injury is one of the most common injuries in construction. Soft tissue refers to tissues that connect, support or surround other structures and organs of the body. Here are some of the most common soft tissue injuries reported in construction:

  • Muscle sprains and strains;
  • Injuries to muscles, ligaments, intervertebral dics and other structures in the back;
  • Injuries to nerves, ligaments and tendons in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or legs;
  • Abdominal hernias; and
  • Chronic pain.

These injuries can occur suddenly or over a prolonged period of time. Risk factors for soft tissue injuries include awkward postures, repetitive motion, excessive force, static posture, vibration and poorly designed tools. The good news is that soft tissue injuries, and the conditions caused by them, are preventable.

The following precautions can help prevent soft tissue injuries:

  • Stretch before you use your muscles.
  • Avoid bending or twisting the back or neck.
  • Avoid overexertion.
  • Use ladders to reach overhead objects and mechanical equipment to carry and move heavy materials.
  • Use proper lifting techniques. Lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Make the most of your break times and stretch muscles that have become tense from continuous sitting and/or exposure to vibration.
  • Use tools properly. When possible, keep tools between your waist and shoulder height, which is considered the “lifting zone.” This gives you the most leverage, and allows the strongest muscles to do the work.
  • Keep your work area clean and free of hazards. Pick up loose objects from the floor, and clean up spills immediately to eliminate tripping and slipping hazards.

Take action today. Decide what you can do right now to help prevent a soft tissue injury, and then do it. You’ll end up with a safer workplace and fewer workplace injuries.

Download a recording form here.

Fall Hazards

Falls are still the number one reason workers get hurt or die on the job. In 2014, a person died every day due to a fall. The most frequent reasons for falls are: slipping on walk surfaces and ladder rungs; tripping over clutter in walk areas; and inappropriate use of ladders.

It’s easy to spot and fix these hazards, but first we must perceive these conditions as safety hazards. If we continue to ignore them, workers will continue to get hurt.

Slipping, Tripping and Jumping

Here is a recently reported list of preventable accidents:

  • A worker slipped on the muddy floor of an equipment cab and fell into the control levers. He suffered bruised and fractured ribs.
  • A worker slipped off the rung of a ladder while attempting to get off a large excavating machine. He fell more than four feet to the ground, spraining an ankle and breaking a wrist bone on impact.
  • While off-loading pipe from a flatbed truck trailer, a worker stepped on a piece of unsecured pipe. The pipe rolled under his foot, and he fell off the truck bed, twisting an ankle and breaking an arm.
  • A worker jumped from an excavator cab five feet to the ground below. He severely injured his knee on impact.
  • A worker stepped on a piece of rebar, which rolled under his foot, causing severe bending and strain on the ankle.

If you pay attention to work area conditions and engage in preventative behavior, you can keep accidents like these from happening.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics evaluated 1,400 ladder accidents and found:

  • Fifty-seven percent of the victims in the study were holding objects with one or both hands while climbing or descending the ladder.
  • Thirty percent had wet, greasy or oily shoes.
  • In 53 percent of the cases, workers had not properly secured or braced the bottom of straight ladders, and in 61 percent, the ladders were unsecured at the top.
  • In 66 percent of the cases, the accident victims never received training to inspect ladders for defects before using them.

These findings clearly indicate that it’s important to focus on safe climbing techniques. Don’t carry objects while climbing. Keep three points of contact with the ladder at all times. Don’t climb with wet, muddy, greasy or oily shoes, and inspect your ladder.

It’s up to each of us to do our part to eliminate falls, put an end to the injuries and reduce fatalities. No one wants to lose a worker per day to falls. Let’s work together to eliminate that statistic.

Download a recording form here.

Preventing Ladder Injuries

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, approximately 165,000 Americans require medical treatment for ladder-related injuries each year. The majority of these accidents were preventable.

Here are five reasons most ladder-related accidents happen.

Selecting the wrong type of ladder

Selecting the right tool makes all the difference when it comes to safety – especially when selecting a ladder. Each ladder supports a maximum weight limit. If the user exceeds that limit, the ladder could break, causing a fall and possible injury. You should also choose a ladder that’s the correct height for the job.

Carrying items up a ladder

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50 percent of all ladder-related accidents are due to individuals carrying items as they climb. You should carry small items such as hammers, pliers, measuring tapes, nails and paint brushes in pouches, holsters or belt loops. Use a hand line to pull or lower large or heavy objects to a different level.

Using worn or damaged ladders

Ladders have a shelf life. Constant use causes wear and tear. Damaged ladders can easily break, causing serious injury. Thoroughly inspect each ladder before using it. If you find damage, either repair the ladder to meet the manufacturer’s specifications, or replace it.

Using ladders incorrectly

Human error is the leading cause of ladder accidents. Don’t use a ladder for anything other than the manufacturer’s intended use. Don’t lengthen or alter a ladder in any way. While on the ladder, always maintain three points of contact to ensure stability. Never reach for something while on a ladder. It’s much safer to get off the ladder, move it and then climb back up.

Incorrect placement of ladders

Make sure the ground is level and firm before positioning the ladder. Never place it in front of a door that isn’t locked, blocked or guarded. Have a co-worker support the base of the ladder while you’re on it. Make sure the ladder has appropriate foot covers to prevent sliding. You can also stake the ladder feet if you are using it outside, and no one is available to support it.