MSHA produces ladder safety guide to improve work practices

By |  February 6, 2014

MSHA launched a metal/nonmetal mining initiative and a corresponding “Ladder Safety Guide” to improve ladder safety standards.

According to MSHA, the “Ladder Safety Guide” will serve as the basis for a series of inspector trainings on ladder safety in the coming months. The guide is designed to ensure MSHA inspectors, miners and mine operators are all working with the same information, says Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for MSHA.

Areas covered in the guide include ladder construction and maintenance; requirements specific to fixed and portable ladders; underground ladders and travelways; and the difference between ladder standards and safe access standards.

Two fatal accidents are highlighted in the guide to underscore the dangers associated with unsafe ladder practices. In one instance, a miner fell 47 ft. from a stepladder that had been set up on an elevated work platform. The use of personal fall protection equipment would have saved his life, MSHA says.

In the second instance, sections of a portable extension ladder were separated and the upper section – without slip-resistant bases – was used. The bottom of the ladder slid on the concrete floor and the miner fell over a handrail – a total of 39 feet. The use of proper slip-resistant bases would have prevented that accident.

“By working collaboratively with all of our stakeholders on initiatives like these, compliance and injuries have improved,” Main says.

Photo courtesy of mnsc / Foter / CC BY

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Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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