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Ladder Safety

Ladders are simple tools, but they can be the source of serious injuries if not used properly. It is important to take as much care when using ladders as you would when using other tools and equipment.

Risks Involved When Using Ladders

The most common accident involving ladders is falling from one, potentially injuring the user as well as others in the area. There are several factors that can contribute to falls from ladders including:

  • Climbing or descending too quickly
  • Making sudden movements
  • Not paying attention
  • Using ladders that are damaged
  • Wearing improper footwear
  • Using a ladder when you are not in good health

Tips for Using a Ladder

  • For starters, never climb a ladder if you are tired, feel dizzy, or have trouble keeping your balance.
  • Inspect a ladder for damage beforehand. Never use a ladder that is damaged or has loose or missing parts.
  • Be sure to wear slip-resistant shoes. Clean and dry the soles before climbing; it is especially important that there is no oil or food residue on the soles.
  • Select a ladder that is the proper size for the task and don't use a ladder that requires you to stretch to get the job done.
  • Sometimes instructions regarding height and weight limits can be found on ladders; look to see if there are any instructions and be sure to follow them.
  • Set the ladder on firm, level ground that is not slippery. Inspect the area for safety; do not set up a ladder in front of a closed door that can be opened towards the ladder and cause it to be knocked over. 
  • Climb a ladder slowly and take deliberate steps. Never climb more than one step at a time and never jump down from the ladder.
  • Do not carry anything that prevents you from having a good grip on the ladder. Being overloaded with items when climbing can lead to slips and falls and can injure people in the area if the objects are accidentally dropped.
  • Do not lean to the side to put objects away; this increases your chances of falling sideways off the ladder. Instead, descend the ladder and move the ladder to where you need it.
  • Use ladders only for the purpose for which they are intended.

Best Practice for Climbing a Ladder

It is good to use the Three-Points-of-Contact method when climbing a ladder. Face the ladder and have either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder at all times. This helps to keep the climber steady when ascending or descending the ladder.

If ever in doubt after the safety of a ladder. 

  1. Do not use the ladder
  2. Speak to a supervisor

For more information on ladder safety in English and Spanish, please see OSHA's publication, Falling Off Ladders Can Kill: Use them Safely.