Portable Ladder Safety
Falls from portable
ladders (step, straight, combination and
extension) are one of the leading causes of
occupational fatalities and injuries.
- Read and follow
all labels/markings on the ladder.
- Avoid electrical
hazards! – Look for overhead power lines before
handling a ladder. Avoid using a metal ladder near
power lines or exposed energized electrical
- Always inspect
the ladder prior to using it. If the ladder is
damaged, it must be removed from service and
tagged until repaired or discarded.
maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two
feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when
climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the
step and always face the ladder while climbing
- Only use ladders
and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers,
jacks or hooks) for their designed purposes.
- Ladders must be
free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps
- Do not use a
self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a
single ladder or in a partially closed position.
- Do not use the
top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it
was designed for that purpose.
- Use a ladder only
on a stable and level surface, unless it has been
secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement.
Do not place a
ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases
to obtain additional height.
- Do not move or
shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on
extension or straight ladder used to access an
elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above
the point of support (see diagram). Do not stand
on the three top rungs of a straight, single or
- The proper angle
for setting up a ladder is to place its base a
quarter of the working length of the ladder from
the wall or other vertical surface (see diagram).
- A ladder placed
in any location where it can be displaced by other
work activities must be secured to prevent
displacement or a barricade must be erected to
keep traffic away from the ladder.
- Be sure that all
locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
- Do not exceed the
maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the
ladder’s load rating and of the weight it is
supporting, including the weight of any tools or
Ladders are built from one of three basic
materials; wood, fiberglass, and metal (aluminum).
The environment of
your work site is the first factor in choosing the
material from which your ladder is constructed. For
example, if you are working near sources of
electricity, a metal ladder should be rejected since
aluminum is an electrical conductor. Your body can
complete an electrical circuit between the electrical
power source, the ladder, and then to the ground in
the event of a live wire contact incident. An
electrical shock while working from a ladder can
trigger a fall or cause your heart to stop leading to
serious injury or death. On the other hand, if there
are no electrical power sources in your work area, the
aluminum ladder is the lightest weight when compared
to fiberglass or wood.
There are also
several kinds of ladders manufactured for a variety of
uses. Again, evaluation of your work environment and
knowledge of what ladders are available will allow you
to choose the right ladder for the job. Each of the
following considerations addresses safety issues in
your work environment:
- Will the ladder
be resting on an uneven surface?
- Is the work area
crowded with people and/or materials?
- What obstructions
are in the path of the climb?
Next, the proper ladder
length must be selected.It is unsafe to use a
ladder that is too long or too short. When using a
Step Ladder,for example, standing on the top cap or
the step below the top cap is not permitted due to the
increased likelihood of losing your balance.
Likewise, when using an Extension Ladder, the top
three rungs are not to be used for climbing. A
Straight Ladder is too long, for example, if ceiling
height prohibits the ladder from being set-up at the
proper angle. Likewise, an Extension Ladder is too
long if the ladder extends more than 3 feet beyond the
upper support point. In this case, the portion of the
ladder that extends above the upper support point can
act like a lever and cause the base of the ladder to
move or slide out. Safety standards require a label
on the ladder to indicate the highest standing level.
the Duty Rating of the ladder. This is an indication
of the maximum weight capacity the ladder can safely
carry. To figure out the total amount of weight your
ladder will be supporting, add:
- Your Weight; plus
- The Weight of
Your Clothing and Protective Equipment; plus
- The Weight of
Tools and Supplies You Are Carrying; plus
- The Weight of
Tools and Supplies Stored on the Ladder
There are five
categories of ladder Duty Ratings:
(Extra Heavy Duty)
(Extra Heavy Duty)
|Type I (Heavy
No No No
The Duty Rating of
your ladder can be found on the specifications label.
Safety standards require a Duty Rating sticker to be
placed on the side of every ladder. Do not assume
that a longer ladder has a higher weight capacity.
There is no relationship between ladder length and