Ladder Safety

A ladder may seem like a simple tool, but did you know that over 100 people die in ladder-related accidents every year, while thousands more suffer disabling injuries?

The death of a carpenter in August 2023 highlights the importance of ladder safety. While standing on the fourth rung from the bottom of a ladder, the carpenter held one end of a measuring tape and reached beyond the ladder’s side to get a measurement. The ladder fell as a result of this movement, causing the carpenter to fall 46 inches to the concrete floor. The carpenter suffered head and neck injuries in the fall and died three days later.

The Office of Risk Management offers a free and brief online training program for anyone in your workplace who uses ladders. Please contact Doreen Rearden if you’d like to register yourself or someone else of the course.

Please see the information below for more information on ladder safety.

Risks Involved When Using Ladders

The most common accident involving ladders is falling from one, potentially injuring the user as well as others in the area. There are several factors that can contribute to falls from ladders, including:

  • Climbing or descending too quickly
  • Making sudden movements
  • Not paying attention
  • Using ladders that are damaged
  • Wearing improper footwear
  • Using a ladder when you are not in good health

Tips for Using a Ladder

  • For starters, never climb a ladder if you are tired, feel dizzy or have trouble keeping your balance.
  • Inspect a ladder for damage beforehand. Never use a ladder that is damaged or has loose or missing parts.
  • Be sure to wear slip-resistant shoes. Clean and dry the soles before climbing; it is especially important that there is no oil or food residue on the soles.
  • Select a ladder that is the proper size for the task and don’t use a ladder that requires you to stretch to get the job done.
  • Sometimes instructions regarding height and weight limits can be found on ladders; look to see if there are any instructions and be sure to follow them.
  • Set the ladder on firm, level ground that is not slippery. Inspect the area for safety; do not set up a ladder in front of a closed door that can be opened towards the ladder and cause it to be knocked over.
  • Climb a ladder slowly and take deliberate steps. Never climb more than one step at a time and never jump down from the ladder.
  • Do not carry anything that prevents you from having a good grip on the ladder. Being overloaded with items when climbing can lead to slips and falls and can injure people in the area if the objects are accidentally dropped.
  • Do not lean to the side to put objects away; this increases your chances of falling sideways off the ladder. Instead, descend the ladder and move the ladder to where you need it.
  • Use ladders only for the purpose for which they are intended.

Best Practice for Climbing a Ladder

It is good to use the Three-Points-of-Contact method when climbing a ladder. Face the ladder and have either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder at all times. This helps to keep the climber steady when ascending or descending the ladder.

If ever in doubt about the safety of a ladder, 1.) do not use the ladder and 2.) speak to a supervisor.

The American Ladder Institute has made informational flyers available for download:

Ladder Safety at Work

Safety at the Top

Choosing Your Ladder

Ladder Safety Affects

Ladder Inspection and Disposal

View All Knowledgebase