If you work in a production facility, factory, warehouse, supply center or retail outlet, you probably either regularly or occasionally step onto a ladder. Even if you work in an office, you may use a small ladder or step stool to reach objects above your head. Either way, you must realize ladder use can be dangerous. In fact, ladder injuries cause 164,000 emergency room visits and result in 300 deaths every year.

Like most of your neighbors, you must go to work every day to support yourself and your family. If you sustain an injury when working on or near a ladder, unfortunately, you may lose the ability to work. While you can likely pursue financial payments through the workers’ compensation program, you are better off avoiding an injury altogether. Here are four simple ways to avoid a ladder-related injury:

  1. Choose the correct ladder 

Ladders come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. As such, not every ladder at your job site is apt to be right for every application. Be sure you choose the correct ladder for your task. 

  1. Place the ladder securely 

When setting up a ladder, you must give it a strong foundation. Placing the ladder on a solid, even surface is essential. Also, look above the ladder to be certain you are not hitting overhead power lines or anything else. 

  1. Inspect the ladder before use 

Like all tools, ladders eventually wear out or break completely. Therefore, before erecting a ladder, inspect it for signs of damage. If you see any, do not use the ladder. Also, mark the item as defective to keep your coworkers safe. 

  1. Follow manufacturer instructions 

Most ladders go through safety testing during design and manufacturing. Safety ratings are only meaningful, however, if you follow manufacturer instructions when using the ladder.

Clearly, a ladder-related injury can leave you with broken bones, deep cuts, nerve damage and other serious injuries. You do not have to leave your personal safety to chance, though. By committing to always using ladders safely and appropriately, you boost your odds of avoiding a ladder-related injury every time you go to work.