Use of Ladders

Ladder Selection

The most common cause of ladder accidents involves not selecting the right ladder for the job. When working indoors, a step stool or stepladder, platform or multi-purpose ladder is usually recommended. For outdoors, a taller step, multi-purpose or extension ladder is often more appropriate.

NOTE: Tag out of service or discard any broken ladder or ladder with missing steps or parts. Select correct size and type of ladder for the job, use wooden or fiberglass when working with electricity. Always check for damage prior to using any ladder.

  • Make sure feet are not broken or malfunctioning and that the slip-resistant pads are secure.
  • Inspect the ladder for cracks, bends and splits on the side rails, rungs and steps.
  • Make sure both rung locks are working properly.
  • Test the rope and pulley. Examine the rope for any signs of fraying. Make sure the pulley is operating smoothly.
  • Ensure all bolts and rivets are secure.
  • Make sure the ladder is free of foreign materials such as oil and grease.
  • If using a stepladder, make sure the spreader braces are secure and working properly.
  • Aluminum or steel ladders should be inspected for rough burrs and sharp edges.

Proper Use of Ladder

Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper use of the ladder. Before starting work, check that the safety feet are positioned properly to prevent slipping. Always place the ladder on a stable surface, clearing debris if necessary. Make sure the ladder steps are clean and dry and that there are no damaged steps. Check the ladder spreaders and make sure they are locked in place. Wear shoes with slip-resistant soles.

Set–up carefully

  • Use a barricade or guard if you will be working in an area with pedestrian traffic to avoid collisions
  • Lock or block any nearby door that opens in toward you
  • Keep area around base of ladder clutter-free
  • Make sure the base of the ladder rests on a solid surface
  • Position a straight ladder at a 4 to 1 ratio (base of ladder should be 1’ away from the vertical surface for every 4 feet of the ladder’s length to support you)
  • Avoid shifting by tying your ladder down as close to the support point as possible
  • Always raise extension ladders so that the upper section overlaps and rests on the bottom section. The upper section must always overlap on the climbing side of the extension ladder.

Make sure the ladder is long enough for the job. Climb only as high as the 2nd tread from the top on a step ladder and the 3rd rung from the top on a straight ladder. When working on a roof, the ladder should extend 3’ beyond the support point. When using an extension ladder, place the ladder top so that both rails are fully supported. The support area should be at least 12" wide on both sides of the ladder.