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What constitutes safe ladder use on construction sites?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls from ladders cause approximately 81 percent of the fall injuries that send construction workers to emergency departments each year. If you are a construction worker in New York, your vulnerability on ladders dictates that this equipment requires special attention from your employer. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed standards specifically governing the use of ladders in the workplace to prevent unsafe working conditions.

Your employer must provide a ladder when there is a difference in height of 19 inches at a point of access and there is no ramp, runway or hoist available to bridge the distance. If you are part of a workforce of more than 25 people, or there is two-way traffic using the ladder, a second ladder should always be in place.

The steps or rungs of a ladder must be level and regularly spaced, and the steps have to be between 10 and 14 inches apart. The surface of the ladder must be smooth so it cannot snag your clothes or puncture or lacerate your skin. If there is a possibility that you or the ladder may come in contact with an electrical source, the side rails have to be made of nonconductive materials to prevent shocks.

All ladders in your workplace should be examined regularly, with additional inspections after situations where the integrity of the ladder might have been compromised. Regular ladder maintenance includes keeping rungs clean and free of slippery substances. This information on ladder safety in the workplace is not intended to be taken as legal advice. 

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