Divisions
Ladder Safety FAQs

How do I safely carry items into a manhole or on to a rooftop using a ladder?
Are there places at Duke where changing light bulbs by ladder may be dangerous?
Am I required to wear fall protection equipment while I am working from a portable ladder?
When do I need to have someone hold the base of the ladder while I am ascending, descending, or working from the ladder?
Are ladders constructed on a job site legal to make & use?
I have a question about ladder safety where I work. What do I do?


How do I safely carry items into a manhole or on to a rooftop using a ladder?

Recall – You must maintain three point contact while ascending or descending a ladder. This is impossible to do with items in your hands.
Possible ways include:
Wearing a tool belt while climbing up or down the ladder.
If possible to do safely, hand items to an assistant in the manhole or on the roof.
Use a rope to raise or lower items.

Are there places at Duke where changing light bulbs by ladder may be dangerous?

Yes. Anytime working from a ladder places the employee above guardrails where a fall hazard exists – fall protection is required. (At right, lights on the fire escape balconies at Sands Building pose such a hazard.)
Another way to safely access these lights would be to use an aerial device or scissors lift.
Aerial devices (vehicle-mounted, telescoping or articulated platforms used to position personnel) require the use of a body belt & lanyard.
Scissor lifts require either a guardrail or fall arrest system.
Aerial platforms, aerial devices, and scissor lifts require a pre-operation inspection and function test and should always be used according to the manufacturer's instructions. See the operator's manual for your specific piece of equipment for more information.

Am I required to wear fall protection equipment while I am working from a portable ladder?

Generally, no. The use of fall protection on a ladder can cause other hazards such as entanglement. Furthermore, all anchorages used for fall protection must be rated. Using an improvised anchorage may lead to a false sense of security.
Situations that put the employee at risk of falling distances greater than the height of the ladder will require fall protection.
The first step is to perform a job hazard analysis (JHA) to determine what equipment is necessary to work safely.
Lifts may be an option. If not, a ladder and fall protection may be the way to go. A rated anchorage is a must.

When do I need to have someone hold the base of the ladder while I am ascending, descending, or working from the ladder?

It is necessary to have someone hold the base of the ladder to prevent it from moving whenever you are using an extension or straight ladder that has not been tied off or otherwise secured.
Remember to secure the ladder at the first opportunity.
Stepladders are designed to be free-standing; therefore, they do not require someone else to stabilize the ladder when they are the proper ladder for the job and have been set-up correctly

Are ladders constructed on a job site legal to make & use?

Yes. There are specific requirements for “job-made” ladders. Ladders not meeting these requirements are unsafe. Contact the Safety Office at 919-684-5996 for information.
Remember to inspect any ladder before using it!

I have a question about ladder safety where I work. What do I do?

Speak with your supervisor about your concern.
If you are unable to arrive at a safe solution for your concern, call the Safety Office at 919-684-5996.

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