MSBAIT Matters: Ladder safety tips in cold weather

MSBAIT Matters: Ladder safety tips in cold weather

MSBAIT Matters

Ladder safety tips in cold weather

By EMC Insurance

EMC Insurance is a Participating Insurer in the MSBAIT Risk Protect Program. Visit the EMC website at


Ladder safety tips are essential year round for school districts, but they become particularly crucial during the winter months. Cold weather introduces unique challenges, including slippery surfaces and bulky clothing. According to a report from the Consumer Public Safety Commission, more than 90,000 people receive emergency room treatment for ladder-related injuries every year – and a majority of those injuries are caused by failure to take precautions when using a ladder during the winter months.

To prevent ladder-related injuries and accidents as temperatures drop, school districts should consider the following ladder safety tips:

Clear the Path

Ensure Stable Ground: Before placing a ladder on the ground, clear away snow and ice to provide a stable foundation. A ladder on an unstable surface can lead to dangerous slips and falls.

Dress for Success: Wear Appropriate Attire

Bulky winter clothing can hinder balance and stability while climbing ladders. Workers may need to remove layers temporarily to maintain their footing. Check between the treads of boots for snow or debris that could cause accidents.

Frost Awareness: Inspect Permanently Installed Ladders

Ladders permanently installed for outdoor use can develop barely visible frost layers, posing a risk to workers. Encourage thorough inspections before ascending outdoor ladders in cold and wet weather.

Explore Alternatives: Consider Safer Equipment

Explore alternatives like cherry pickers, scissor lifts, or forklifts with work platforms for winter tasks whenever possible. These may offer safer and more efficient alternatives to ladders. If ladder use is unavoidable, provide fall protection, such as slip-resistant boots, guard rails, or safety harnesses (with proper training).

Ladder Safety Tips for All Seasons

Maintain year-round worker safety with these universal ladder safety tips for a secure work environment.

  • Electrical Awareness: Be cautious around overhead power lines to prevent electrical hazards
  • Pre-Use Inspection: Always inspect the ladder before using it to ensure it’s in good condition
  • Avoid the Top Rung: Never stand on the top rung (or step) of the ladder, or the rung right below it
  • Maintain Three Points of Contact: Always have three points of contact with the ladder while climbing or descending
  • Face the Ladder: Keep your face toward the ladder while ascending and descending
  • Proper Use: Use ladders and their accessories only for their intended purposes
  • Slippery Surface Check: Ensure ladder steps or rungs are free of slippery materials
  • Stable Placement: Position the ladder on a stable and level surface to prevent tipping
  • Avoid Height Enhancers: Don’t place ladders on boxes or barrels to increase height
  • Correct Angle Ratio: The ladder base needs to be one foot away from the building for every four feet of height to where the ladder rests against the building; so, a ladder that’s touching the building at 16 feet high needs to be four feet away from the building at its base
  • Prevent Tipping: Place ladders in areas where they won’t get knocked over
  • Weight Limits: Do not exceed the maximum load rating of the ladder
  • Ladder Extension Height: Extend extension ladders at least three feet above the point of support (say, the roof of the building)

By following these ladder safety tips, you can minimize the risks associated with ladder use in all seasons, including the unique challenges that winter brings. Remember that proper ladder safety training and awareness are key to preventing accidents and ensuring a safer work environment year round.

For more risk management and other information about EMC Insurance, visit our website at

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