Weekly Safety Tip: Safe Use of Ladders

Ladders, used properly, can be a safe and convenient tool. When used improperly, however, they can lead to a serious injury or result in a fatality.

Climbing Position

  • Climb a ladder by holding on to the rails and not the steps.
  • Climb facing the ladder with your body centered between the rails.
  • Use three points of contact, with at least three extremities attached to the ladder at all times.
  • Do not twist your body while climbing.

Lifting Items

  • Do not climb with hands full of gear.
  • Put any materials you need to take up a ladder into a tool bag/belt that you wear on your person.
  • Use hand lines, hoists, or manlifts to lift and lower heavy objects.

Protective Gear

  • Fall protection must be worn based on the hazard assessment if you are working on scaffolding or on the roof of the building.
  • Footwear with good support, non-slip soles, and free of mud, oil, and any other slippery debris is required when working on a ladder.
  • Safety glasses or hardhats may be required for overhead work.

Stepladder Guidelines

  • Never stand on the top two steps.
  • Fully open step ladders. Never use a stepladder in a partially-closed position.
  • Ladders must have a spreader or locking device. Open and lock cross spreaders.
  • Stepladders must not exceed 20 feet in height.

Other Guidelines

  • Do not use ladders as a work platform.
  • Keep the area around the bottom and top of the ladder free of debris.
  • Allow only one person on a ladder at a time.
  • Do not move or extend the ladder while occupied (i.e., no ladder jumping).
  • Check the ladder for damage and defects before use. If damaged or defective, immediately remove the ladder from service and get rid of it.
  • Get help when moving large ladders or working on uneven terrain.

Questions? Dennis.Rasley@desales.edu