>Ladder Safety

Do you think you know all there is about ladder safety? THINK AGAIN.

Choose the Right Ladder

  • How high do you have to reach?
    The top of the ladder should be no more than 4 feet below the work.

  • What load capacity should the ladder have?
    Compare your weight plus weight of the load and anything you are carrying to the ladder duty rating.


Type IAA     Extra Heavy Duty 375 pounds
Type IA   Extra Heavy Duty       300 pounds   
Type I   Heavy Duty 250 pounds
Type II   Medium Duty 225 pounds
  • Should you use a wood or fiberglass ladder?
    Fiberglass ladders should be used if there is any chance you will come in contact with electricity.
  • Do not use a ladder for any other purpose than for what it is designed. 
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  • Be sure the steps are clean – not greasy or slippery.


  • Be sure to check the ladder before using for any damage or defective parts.

How to Inspect a Ladder

  • Look carefully for any corrosion, defects, or cracks. Make sure all bolts and rivets are secure.
  • The rungs, cleats, or steps should not be missing, bent, or broken.
  • Make sure that all the joints between the steps or rungs and side rails are tight.
  • It is important that fittings, hardware, and accessories are securely attached and working properly.
  • The ladders feet should work properly. The feet should have slip-resistant pads.
  • Remove any unsafe ladders from service.
  • If you have a company, make sure that a qualified person makes a full documented inspection of all the ladders

How to Properly Set Up a Ladder

  • Place the base of the ladder on a hard, even surface. If the surface is soft, use a board under the feet of the ladder. Avoid slippery, wet surfaces.
  • A ladder should never be leaned against a window pane or other unstable surface.
  • All extension ladders should extend at least 3 feet beyond the upper level surface.
  • Here is a formula for safe placement:
    An extension or straight ladder should be placed 1 foot away from the surface it’s resting on for every 4 feet of the ladder’s height.


Safety Tips

  • If you feel ill or dizzy, do not use a ladder. Save the job for another day.
  • Always face the ladder and put your hands on the rungs. Never put your hands on the side rails.
  • Keep three points of contact with the ladder at all times:
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                   Two Feet – Two Hands           Two Hands – One Foot               Two Feet – One Hand
  • Never get off the ladder from the side.
  • Never stand higher than the third rung or step from the top.
  • Reposition the ladder instead of leaning or overreaching.
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  • Don’t carry tools while you are climbing. Use a tool belt or put the tools in a bucket and pull it up with a rope.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes or work boots.
  • Only one person should be on the ladder at a time.
  • The area around the top and bottom of the ladder should be kept clear and free of any debris.
    Keep Area Around the Base of the Ladder Clean

  • If the weather is bad or windy, don’t use the ladder.
  • If suddenly bad weather arises, immediately come down and wait for it to be over.
  • After use, clean the ladder to avoid dirt build-up.

Do you need fall protection?

  • If the height of the ladder is 10 feet or higher above the floor or ground a personal fall protection system may be needed. The system could be a fall arrest, fall restraint, positioning system, or another approach.

Fall Arrest Systems

  • In the construction industry, OSHA defines a fall hazard as a drop of 6 feet or more from a working/walking surface to a lower level or grade. Some exceptions exist, including (but not limited to) ladders, scaffolding, and steelwork. Common fall arrest equipment includes an anchor point, body harness, and connector (such as a lanyard or self-retracting lifeline.

  • There are three categories of fall arrest systems.
    1. Positioning OSHA 1926.502(e) – Positioning systems allow the worker to sit back securely in their harness …
      See Example  
    2. Retrieval OSHA 1926.502(d)(20) – Otherwise known as a rescue plan, retrieval is a crucial step in the development of a fall protection plan.… See Example 
    3. Suspension OSHA 1926.452(o) – Suspension equipment systems are able to lower and support the …
      See Example


  • Homeowners
  • Construction Workers
  • Hunters
  • Mountaineers
  • Rock Climbers
  • Tree Surgeons / Arborists
  • Anyone who needs protection from falls