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Ladder Safety

Whether at home or work, ladders are used by many people as a safe means to access overhead objects or perform maintenance.   Although ladders can provide a safer way to access overhead objects, there are multiple risks associated with their use.

Use the following tips to prevent ladder hazards (NSC 2020):

  • Consider the distance and elevation of the area you are trying to access before using any ladder.
  • Your weight combined with the weight of equipment and tools needs to be calculated collectively when understanding the weight limitations for ladders.
  • Use ladders made from non-conductive fiberglass material if performing electrical work.
  • Make sure ladders are placed on a firm, solid, and dry surface.
  • For every 4 feet that an extension ladder is erected, make sure the base of the ladder is 1 foot away from the resting surface.
  • Make sure the ladder is fully extended before use.
  • Perform a self-health assessment before climbing a ladder to make sure you are fit for duty.  Do not climb a ladder if you are ill.
  • Wear slip resistant shoes or boots with a defined heel while using ladders.
  • Identify and barricade the impacted work area to prevent unauthorized work-area access.
  • Always face the ladder directly when climbing onto a ladder.
  • Maintain three points of contact while using a ladder.
  • If using an extension ladder, make sure the top of the ladder extends 3 feet beyond the roof or platform you are trying to reach.  
  • Do not lean or overreach while using a ladder.
  • Do not carry equipment/tools while climbing up or down a ladder.  Use a tool belt to secure your tools.  
  • Ladder inspection should be performed prior to each use to identify potential damage. 

References: 

National Safety Council (NSC).  2020.  Ladder Safety One Rung at a Time.  Available from: https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/safety-checkup/ladders

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Brian Pelan
Brian Pelan
OSE Director, Laramie, WY

Brian has over 20 years of professional experience in environmental, health, safety, and security (EHS&S). His areas of expertise include EHS&S risk management; ISO systems management & auditing; fluid recovery/recycling; and industrial hygiene services.
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