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Posted on: June 20, 2016 By: Trevor Atherton, Safety Mgr


Ladders are a piece of equipment that we use on a daily basis that if used improperly can become a serious hazard. Every day workers are injured and even killed from improper use or defective ladders.

The following safety rules should be used whenever you are using a stepladder:

  • Never use a stepladder as a straight ladder.
  • Do not stand on the top step or top of a ladder. If you cannot reach the area you need to get a taller ladder.
  • Always face the ladder.
  • Keep three points of contact while climbing a ladder. Do not carry tools while climbing a ladder. Have someone hand them to you or rope them up.
  • Stepladders shall be completely open and secure before using.
  • Ladders shall only be used on stable and level surfaces unless secured to prevent accidental displacement.
  • Do not place a ladder in an area where it is not visible. (i.e. doorways, high traffic areas) If you have to use a ladder in these areas barricade the area with tape and signage.
  • Keep yourself in the center of the ladder. Your belt buckle should be between the ladder rails.
  • Ladder surfaces should be dry and free from slippery substances.
  • Never use metal ladders near electrical circuits, fixtures or power lines.
  • When ladder are used close to handrails, 100% fall protection shall be used. If a fall were to occur, momentum could propel you over the handrail.
  • Do not overload the ladder; check the load limit before using.
  • The area around the top and bottom of the ladder shall be kept clear.
  • Ladder shall not be moved, shifted or extended while occupied.
  • Cross-bracing on the rear section of step ladders shall not be used to climbing or standing.
  • Straight ladders must be extended 3 feet above the landing level and be tied off.
  • Ladders must be set at an angle of a 4 to 1 ratio (four feet vertical to one foot horizontal).

Always inspect the ladder before use. If the ladder is found to be defective, tag it out and remove from service. Look at the following components of the ladder when conducting you inspection.

Structural Components – Inspect:

  • Rails, steps, rungs, the top and rung braces for bends, splits, cracks or other defects.
  • Locks to insure they are fully functional.
  • Guides to ensure they are fully functional.
  • All hardware items to insure they are functional
  • All metal components for excessive rust or corrosion.

Connections – Inspect:

  • Rivets to insure head and crimp are intact
  • Crimps and swages for looseness, cracking or other conditions.
  • Bolts and nuts to insure they are tight and threads are not stripped
  • Welds for cracks or damage.

Accessories – Inspect:

  • Safety shoes to insure shoes and treads are in good condition
  • Leveling devices for condition and proper operation.

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