Revised on
03/16/17 01:19pm

Portable Ladder Safety

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Falls from ladders can cause serious bodily harm. Factors that cause falls include rushing work, complacency, over-reaching, sudden movement, lack of attention, footwear, and the user's physical condition. Employees must be trained before using ladders via LMS.

General Safety Rules and Practices

  • Inspect all ladders before use to make sure the feet are in good condition and can lie flat on the ground.
  • Remove ladders with defects (i.e. broken/missing steps, rungs, cleats, safety feet, side rails, etc.) from service, and tag them with "Danger Do Not Use”.
  • Ladders have maximum weight ratings. Before using the ladder, make sure the rating is not exceeded.
  • When possible, secure the ladder at the base and top.
  • Face the ladder and use both hands when ascending/descending.
  • Maintain a firm grip and 3-point contact.
  • Use tool belts or ropes attached to buckets to bring tools up.
  • When ascending/descending ladders, keep your belt buckle between the ladder rails.
  • When descending, look down and make sure you are on the last rung before getting off.
  • Purchase only ANSI-14 approved straight, A-frame, and safety step ladders.

Unsafe Practices

  • Never put ladders on top of boxes, carts, tables, etc.
  • Do not use ladders on unstable, slippery surfaces, or soft ground
    •  A plywood plank can sometimes be placed beneath the ladder legs.
    •  Consider using an aerial lift instead.
  • Do not overreach. Take the time to move the ladder when needed.
  • Do not climb a stepladder or A-frame ladder leaning against a wall. Use a straight ladder instead.
  • Do not climb the back of a stepladder or A-frame ladder.
  • Do not let your knees go above the top of the stepladder.
  • Do not stand (or sit) on the top two steps of a stepladder.
  • Do not set up in front of a door unless you locked the door, or otherwise controlled access with barriers.

Types of Ladders

Straight Ladders:

  • The distance from the wall is the ladder length divided by 4 (i.e. 12 foot straight ladder should be ~ 3 feet from the wall).
  • If climbing onto a roof to an upper surface:
    • A straight ladder (<32 ft.) must extend 3 feet over the edge of the roof. This provides hand holds for exiting the ladder onto the roof or getting back on the ladder from the roof

A-Frame Stepladders:

  • Use a stepladder about 3 feet shorter than the highest point you have to reach. This gives a wider, more stable base and places shelf at a convenient working height.
  • Make sure the ladder spreader is fully extended.
  • Place the stepladder at right angles to the work; either the front or back of the steps, facing the work.

Choosing the Correct Ladder

  • A-frame ladders must be < 20 feet.
  • Painters A-frame ladders must be < 12 feet.
  • Single, straight ladders must be < 30 feet.
  • Two section-extension ladders:
    •  Metal ladders must be < 48 feet.
    •  Wood ladders must be < 60 feet.
  • Non-conductive ladders must be used if the ladder or user can contact unprotected energized electrical conductors or equipment.