When you go to work, you assume you will arrive back home safely at the end of the day. If your job duties require you to regularly or occasionally work on a ladder, though, you may be in for a surprise. That is, you may sustain a serious injury (or worse) when working from a ladder.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, around 500,000 individuals injure themselves when working with ladders. Even worse, roughly 300 individuals die in accidents involving a ladder. If you want to stay safe on the job, you should understand why ladder accidents tend to occur. Here are four common reasons:

1. An old ladder
Like most pieces of equipment at your job site, ladders have a lifespan. While aluminum ones may hold up better than their wooden counterparts, no ladder lasts forever. If your ladder wobbles, creaks or shakes, it is probably best to stay off it until you order a replacement.

2. The wrong ladder 

Not every ladder is right for every job. If you use one that is too short or too tall, you may be asking for trouble. Also, you should not modify a ladder in an attempt to make it fit your needs. If you do not have the correct ladder, you should wait to start the project until you find it.

3. Incorrect placement 

For ladders to be secure, you must place them correctly. Positioning a ladder on uneven or shifting surfaces is a recipe for disaster. Additionally, you must be careful not to move your ladder into electrical wires, machinery or other workplace hazards. Your employer should provide you with training on how to safely place ladders.

4. Human error 

Ladder manufacturers intend for you to use their products correctly. Unfortunately, though, you may think you can get away with incorrectly using a ladder to do certain jobs. Rather than risking your safety, commit to using all ladders at your workplace for their intended purpose.

Most ladder injuries are avoidable. To be sure you stay safe on and around ladders, familiarize yourself with recommendations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.