Safe Use of Ladders
It is estimated that costs of $17 million dollars per year are generated
from falls from ladders in New Zealand in any one year! Where working at
be avoided, the use of a ladder is the least preferred option. Always determine
if a ladder is the best and safest means of doing the job. If you are required
to use a ladder, there are some safety guidelines:
Working with Ladders
- Secure the ladder as soon as it is placed. Prevent the ladder’s feet from
slipping outwards and the ladder’s top end from moving sideways or
- Rest the top of the ladder against a solid surface that can withstand the
- Attach hooks on top of the ladder rails where the ladder is to be used
at a constant height.
- Attach a ladder stay across the back of a ladder where a surface cannot
stand the load. Extend the stays across a window for firm support against
walls or window frame.
- Station a person at the foot of a ladder when it is not possible to tie
at the top or secure it at the foot. (This is effective only for ladders
up to 5 metres long). Ensure that the person at the foot of the ladder faces the ladder
with a hand on each side rail and one foot resting on the bottom rung.
- The correct angle for a ladder is one unit of measurement out for every
four units of height.
- Do not rest a ladder on any rung. Only the side rails are designed for
- Only one person should be using the ladder at any one time.
- Keep three points of contact between yourself and the ladder at all times.
Always face the ladder and use both hands when climbing. Always grasp the
climbing, not the side rails. If your foot slips on a ladder, holding on
to the rungs is easier than holding on to the side rails.
- Set the ladder on a firm, even surface. Never use a ladder on a surface
where one foot can sink into the ground. Use a board or plank under the
feet to stop them from sinking.
- Wear shoes with heels when climbing a ladder. Clean the soles of shoes
prior to climbing if they are slippery. Avoid climbing with wet soles.
- Raise or lower tools or materials using a hand line.
- Never over-reach sideways. Climb down and move the ladder.
- Work should be carried out from a rung or step no higher than one meter
below the top of the ladder. Never work any higher than three steps down
from the top of a ladder.
- Ensure no one is underneath the area of work being performed. Set up suitable
barriers e.g.: cones around ladders.
- Never hand tools or other items from the steps or rungs.
- When working around doors ensure the are locked securely.
- Ladders should not be left unattended in an erect position. Store safety
where children can’t access them.
- Always check for overhead wires.
- When carrying ladders, distribute weight evenly by placing your shoulder
half way alongside the stile.
- Use a stepladder that is about 1 metre shorter than the highest point you
have to reach. This gives a wider, more stable base and places shelf at
- Place a stepladder at right angles to the work, with either the front or
back of the steps facing the work.
- Avoid pushing or pulling stepladders from the side. Repeated movement can
make ladders wobbly since they are weaker or less stable in those directions.
- Face the stepladder when climbing up or down. Keep your body centred between
the side rails. You have climbed too high if your knees are above the top
of the stepladder or if you cannot maintain a handhold on the ladder.
- Maintain a firm grip. Use both hands when climbing.
- Do not climb a stepladder that is leaning against a wall – use a straight
- Never work from the top treads.
- Do not “shift” or “walk” a stepladder when standing
- Do not attempt to over-reach when working from a stepladder.
- Always face the stepladder treads.
- Do not use a stepladder for access or egress into another workspace – use
another type of ladder such as a pole ladder.
- Do not place a stepladder on boxes or scaffolds to gain extra height.
- Never use a stepladder with a single or temporary stay.
- Never use a stepladder as a support for a working platform.
was summarised from the following web sites. Contact these websites if
- ACC Safe Ladder Use
Ladder Inspection Checklist
Ladders in use should have a visual inspection prior to use, and at least
an annual thorough inspection. The use of wooden ladders is not encouraged.
Aluminium ladders can be returned to the supplier for the annual ladder check.
General Needs Repair OK Date Repaired
Loose steps or rungs? (considered loose if they can be moved at all with the
Signs of corrosion, rust, oxidation?
Loose nails, screws, bolts or other metal parts?
Cracked, split, or broken uprights, braces or rungs?
Slivers on uprights, rungs or steps?
Damaged or worn non-slip bases?
Wobbly (from side strain)
Loose or bent hinge spreaders?
Stop on hinge spreaders broken?
Broken, spilt or worn steps?
Loose, broken or missing extension locks?
Defective locks that do not seat properly while extended?
Worn or rotted rope