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What you need to know

Man climbing ladder using three points of contact

To help prevent falls, maintain three points of contact when climbing on ladders, equipment or vehicles.

The Three Points of Contact Rule:

Practice following the three points of contact rule: When climbing or descending ladders, trucks and equipment, always maintain contact with one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot.

Ladder use:

  • Position the ladder so it is:
    • Not blocking any paths, exits or doors
    • On level, solid footing
    • Against a stable structure
    • Set up at a 4:1 angle
    • Extended at least three feet above the surface to be accessed
    • Secured footing at the top and bottom
  • Using the ladder:
    • Keep both hands free of other tools or materials and face the ladder. This allows for three points of contact with the ladder
    • Don’t let your buckle pass beyond either ladder side rail
    • Hold the ladder with one hand while working with the other
    • Don’t rush or skip rungs/steps

Vehicles and equipment:

Before you lift a leg to climb or descend a vehicle or piece of equipment, know your points of contact. Points of contact may include steps, running boards, traction strips, footholds and hand grips.

When climbing or descending a vehicle or piece of equipment:

  • Firmly grasp the points of contact with both hands
  • Climb on and off only when the vehicle or equipment is stationary
  • Always mount and dismount facing the vehicle or equipment
  • Don’t use wheel hubs, machine track or door handles for mounting and dismounting
  • Break three-point contact only when you reach the ground or a stable platform
  • Make sure both feet are firmly planted on the ground before you let go

Why it matters

Improper ladder usage accounts for one out of every four injuries to people who use ladders, drive trucks or operate equipment as part of their normal job duties.1 Selecting the proper equipment to work at elevated heights can increase the productivity of your team while eliminating the fall hazards associated with the ladder. If you maintain three points of contact while you climb, you can always limit your exposure to slips and falls.

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More resources recommended for you

Supplement this talk: Maintain three points of contact
More on this topic: Construction Fall Protection Program
Construction resources: Construction Loss Control Services

[1] CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training “The Construction Chart Book” 2023

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