and ladders are a major source of injuries and fatalities
among construction workers. OSHA estimates that there
are 25,000 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities per
year due to falls from stairways and ladders used in
the following regarding Ladder Safety:
precautions with ladders begins with selecting the correct
- The type
of work the ladder will be used for.
- The weight
the ladder must carry.
- The condition
of the ladder.
- The physical
usually made of wood, metal, reinforced plastic and
fiberglass, sold for light use are Type III light-duty
ladders. These are rated for a maximum load of 200 pounds
(user plus materials). If the ladder needs to carry
more weight than this, use the table below to aid your
ladders will be labeled with their duty rating.
self-supporting portable ladder, non-adjustable in length,
having flat steps and hinged back. Stepladders longer
than 20 feet shall not be used.
Straight (single) ladders
- A non self-supporting portable ladder, non adjustable
in length, consisting of one section. Straight (single)
ladders longer than 30 feet shall not be used.
- A non self-supporting portable ladder adjustable in
length. Extension ladders longer than 60 feet shall
not be used.
Keep in mind
that the length of a ladder is different from its usable
length. The height these ladders can safely reach is
reduced by the angle at which the ladder must be set
a ladder, there are certain defects and features that
you should look for:
- On metal
ladders, check for sharp edges, dents and bent steps,
rungs or rails.
ladders should be free of splits, cracks, chips and
all but small, tight knots.
- No ladder
should have loose rungs or steps.
on wooden step ladders should be reinforced with
metal rods or angle braces securely attached to
the step and side rail.
bottom step of all stepladders should have metal
angle braces. The stability of an individual stepladder
can be checked by standing on the first step from
the bottom and twisting the ladder. If it feels
unsteady, choose another ladder.
- All metal
ladders should have slip-resistant rubber or plastic
stepladders should have slip-resistant steps. Some
wooden stepladders also have this feature.
- When using
a ladder near power lines, use a wooden or fiberglass
ladder since metal ladders conduct electricity.
splice two short ladders together to make a long ladder.
shall never be used in the horizontal position as
scaffolds or work platforms.
- Read and
follow all instructions accompanying the ladder, set
up the ladder properly, and use good sense while working
on the ladder.
- To raise
a ladder, brace the lower end against a wall and then
grasp the top rung with both hands. Raise the top
end and walk underneath the ladder, moving down the
rungs until the ladder is vertical.
- When using
an extension ladder, raise it to the desired height,
being sure the locks engage properly on both sides
of the ladder.
- To position
the ladder properly, place it against the wall so
the distance between the wall and the base of the
ladder is 1/4 of the length along the ladder from
the base to its point of support.
- You should
not stand on the top three rungs.
the rungs on ladders are normally one foot apart,
the approximate distance is easy to compute.
- If the
ladder is to be used for getting onto a roof or other
platform, there should be 3 feet of ladder (at least
three rungs) extending beyond the edge of the roof.
- The ground
under the ladder should be both level and firm. Large
flat wooden boards placed under the ladder can level
a ladder on uneven ground or give a ladder better
footing on soft ground.
- If possible,
secure the ladder. One way to do this is to have someone
hold the bottom of the ladder.
remember when raising and positioning a ladder are:
use a ladder in a strong wind.
- The point
where the ladder rests against the wall should be
flat and firm.
- A ladder
should not be placed in front of a door that is not
locked, blocked or guarded.
positioning the ladder, check for insect or bird nests
under the eaves; the top of a ladder is no place to
discover a wasp nest.
- Face the
ladder when climbing or descending and use both hands.
the ladder from the center, not from the side.
- Be very
careful when using a metal ladder around electrical
wires or equipment. Many fatalities occur when a metal
ladder brushes against power lines while being moved.
- Use only
double-insulated or properly grounded electrical tools
on a metal ladder.
should be carried in the pockets, in a bag attached
to a belt, or raised and lowered by rope.
- The area
around the top and bottom of ladder must be kept clear.
- Be sure
that the soles of your shoes are clean and dry.
- Work facing
the ladder, holding on with one hand. If it is ever
necessary to work with both hands, hook one leg over
lean too far to the side while working. A good general
guide is to keep your body centered between the rails
of the ladder. Instead of leaning to the side, get
down and move the ladder.
- In case
of sudden dizziness or a panicky feeling, bow your
head, drape both arms over the rung in front of you,
close your eyes, and wait until the feeling passes.
- Do not
use a ladder as a scaffold or for any purpose except
what was intended.
- When two
or more ladders are used to reach a work area, they
must be offset with a landing or platform between
Many of the
suggestions for using straight and extension ladders
also apply to stepladders. When using a stepladder:
a stepladder only on a flat level surface.
use a stepladder as a straight ladder.
- Do not
step on the top platform or top step.
- Do not
place it on a table or any similar platform for added
climbing a stepladder, make sure that its legs are
fully extended and the spreader locked. The locking
device on some ladders may present a pinching hazard,
so keep fingers clear when setting up the ladder.
- Do not
use a stepladder for getting onto a roof or other
- Do not
step on the bucket shelf or attempt to climb or stand
on the rear section supports.
should be stored in a sheltered area.
ladders are affected by exposure to heat combined
with dampness and need a dry, well-ventilated storage
- A wooden
ladder used outdoors should be shellacked, varnished
or given two coats of linseed oil as a protective
coating. Some new ladders may already have protective
coatings; this will vary with the manufacturer.
paint a wooden ladder; the paint can hide defects.
and extension ladders should be stored horizontally
on racks or hooks with support points at the top,
middle, and bottom of the ladder to prevent sagging
a ladder before each use for wear and damage. This
is particularly important after a long period of storage
or after a ladder has been dropped. Have repair work
done only by a competent repair shop. If there is
major damage, discard the ladder.
- Do not
attempt to straighten a bent metal ladder.
use a damaged ladder.
are to be kept free of oil, grease, wet paint, and
other slip hazards.
tighten the reinforcing rods under the steps of a
stepladder, the spreader hinges and other hardware.
no matter what kind of ladder you are using, never
leave a raised ladder unattended. It could fall unexpectedly
and injure someone.