Falls are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry.  Announcing a new campaign that makes training videos and other materials available to contractors, Ron Sokol, president and CEO of the Safety Council—Texas City and NORA, says, “We want to reach as many people as possible to prevent construction workers and others from falling while at work.”

To do that, OSHA and NIOSH, have produced a number of videos like the one posted on this page with moving messages from fall victims about the toll preventable accidents have taken on their families, including lost income, chronic disabilities, and the loss of loved ones—along with step-by-step demonstrations of safe practices for working with ladders, scaffolds, cherry-pickers, lifts, and roofs.

“Don’t Fall for It!” shows the best safety practices for working with stepladders and extension ladders. These include:

  • Inspect the rungs, rivets, locking, and spreading devices for soundness before getting on any ladder.  Label unsafe ladders and remove them from worksites until they’re repaired or discarded.
  • Provide a flat, stable bearing surface (e.g., a board or panel) for ladder feet, especially when setting up on soft earth or gravel.
  • Set straight or extension ladders at not more or less than a 75-degree angle. Check by positioning your toes at the ladder base and reach for a rung closest to chin level; if you can grab it with your arm fully extended while standing straight up, the ladder angle will be about right.
  • Once the angle is right, anchor the ladder at the bottom and the top by tying them off with rope fastened to a stable fixture; use a stake at the base if no other anchor is close by.
  • When using an extension ladder to access a roof, extend it at least 3 feet above the roof edge.
  • Don’t climb straight ladders past the fourth rung from the top.
  • Climb ladders using the “three-point rule”—that means both feet and at least one hand or both hands and at least one foot are in contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Don’t climb ladders carrying objects in your hands; carry tools up on a tool belt and lift larger objects up to the work area with block and tackle or similar work aid.
  • When using stepladders, always be sure that the spreaders are fully open and locked;  never work from a stepladder propped against a wall or other object in closed position.
  • Never sit on top or on any rung of a stepladder.
  • Never climb on the “wrong-side” bracing of a stepladder.

Go to OSHA’s new fall prevention web page for detailed information on the new fall prevention campaign in English and Spanish.