Pacific Employers Advisors to Management
Ladder Safety # 1 *
There is absolutely no reason for anybody to get hurt, disabled or
killed while using a ladder. Yet it happens every single day. Somebody steps on the safety
sticker that says "This is not a step!" and ends up with a broken leg. Another
worker puts a rock under one of the legs because the ladder is "just not quite stable
enough." On the way to the hospital, it occurs to her, through the pain of her broken
arm, that maybe that was not such a good idea after all. On another job, a fellow reaches
out just a little bit to far and...well...he's no longer with us. Virtually every single
ladder accident could and should have been prevented. It only takes a little bit of common
sense, SAFETY SENSE, to prevent an accident from occurring while using ladders. Stick to
the following simple rules to ensure that you or your fellow workers are never injured
while using a ladder.
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT LADDER: Always select a ladder which is the
correct length to safely reach the working height. Also ensure that the ladder
is of the correct duty, or weight rating. The combined weight of the user,
their tools and materials should NEVER exceed the rating of the ladder. Most
ladders are available with weight ratings of 200, 225, 250 and 300 lbs. Select
the right one or GET the right one.
- CHECK THE CONDITION OF THE LADDER: Read all the labels on the ladder then check for
split or cracked side rails, missing or broken rungs, loose rungs or other weaknesses.
Also check for splinters and sharp edges.
- PLACE THE LADDER WITH YOUR SAFETY IN MIND: Use your head and think safety before you
setup the ladder. Make sure the ladder has firm footing and that it's feet are one-quarter
the length of the ladder away from the upright surface to be climbed. Don't use a step
ladder as a single ladder. If you are using a step ladder, make sure it is fully open with
the spreaders properly locked.
- CLIMB THE LADDER CAREFULLY. Keep your mind on where you are and what you're doing. Wear
the proper shoes with good soles and that are free of grease or mud. Always face the
ladder and use both hands when climbing up or down. Don't carry your tools or materials:
raise and lower them with a hand line: don't have someone toss them up to you or just
drop them when you are finished. If you don't feel well, DON'T climb the ladder.
Always climb and work from the center of the ladder. Don't climb up the "back"
side of a step ladder and never stand on the top of it.
- NEVER OVERREACH! MOVE THE LADDER INSTEAD: Breaking this one simple rule causes
more accidents than you can possibly imagine.
- TIE OFF THE LADDER: Once you have climbed to your working height, tie-off the ladder and
use a safety belt.
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR LADDERS: When you are finished with your ladder, put it back where it
belongs. Always keep them clean and free of excess material. Store them in a safe and dry
place, out of direct exposure to the sun and the elements. Make sure your ladders are tied
down during transit. Never paint a wooden ladder. You can however use clear wood
Your ladder is one of your most important
It is also one or your most unforgiving if misused or mistreated; so use it safely
We welcome your comments about this article, and requests for future
topics. If you have a specific topic you would like to see covered here or that you
may need for your company, please send an Email to our Tail Gate Safety Topics editor,
Dave Miller at
firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com.
Copyright © 2001 by David E. Miller