June 2017 – Ladders

By John Howell,


Injuries in the workplace because of ladders are commonplace. Falls from ladders can be as painful as a fall from a roof; about a third of all reported falls are falls from ladders. Many of the fall related injuries result from the improper use or the use of a defective ladder. Step/extension ladders are made to access/egress upper levels, not to be used as work platforms. There are specifically designed ladders for use as work platforms such as order pickers. These ladders are constructed with a small platform and guardrail. The following safe work rules should be observed when working with ladders.

Guide for Discussion


-Look for missing or loose cleats at the bottom.

-Look for loose or missing screws, bolts, or nails on job-made ladders.

-Look for cracked, broken, split, dented, or badly worn rungs, cleats or side rails.

-Splinters on wood ladders.

-Corrosion on metal ladders.

Ladder Use

-Always use the right ladder for the right job.

-Don’t set your ladder in a walkway or door opening.

-Keep the area at the top and bottom of the ladder clear of tool cords, tools, material, and garbage.

-Always set the ladder on solid footing.

-Use a twenty-five percent (25%) angle on the slope of the ladder.

-When using extension ladders, the three (3) top rungs must extend beyond the landing platform. (Or the top of an extension ladder must be 36” (3 feet) above the landing.)

-Don’t lean to the side when on a ladder or you may tip over.

-Do not carry tools or materials on a ladder. Use both hands when climbing a ladder to grab onto the side rails. If it is necessary to move material or tools up a ladder, first climb up, then pull up the work with a hand line.

-Only one person on a ladder at a time (unless the ladder is double cleated).

-Always secure the top of the ladder to prevent it from sliding.

-Never lean a step ladder; always fully open a step ladder.

-Always face the ladder.

Additional Discussion Notes:

Always tie off the ladder. That way it stays where you put it.

Remember: When you are on a ladder, you can fall. If you can fall, you can get hurt. Use ladders safely.

NOTE: Always promote a discussion on any of the topics covered in the Toolbox Talks.

Should any question arise that you cannot answer, don’t hesitate to contact your Employer.

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