A Ladder Safety Checklist

September 30, 2015
Clock Icon 3 min read

For many short-duration tasks, ladders are the most suitable access equipment: they’re relatively cheap, easy to handle, and can be used by almost anyone with suitable training.

However, using a ladder also has its dangers. If your ladder isn’t positioned correctly, regularly inspected or used appropriately then accidents are likely to occur.

Before you set foot on the first rung, whether it’s to paint a wall, clean a window or reach a shelf, make sure you tally up your task against the following safe ladder procedures to ensure you stay safe at work and at home.

Assess The Risks

  • Is a ladder the most suitable equipment for the task? Ladders are recommended for short-duration, low-risk tasks.
  • Will the task last longer than 30 minutes? If so, another form of work at height equipment may be more suitable.
  • Is the person using the ladder competently trained?
  • Does any personal protective equipment, such as gloves and a hard hat, need providing to the user to enhance their safety?
  • Are you using the right ladder for the job? Class I ladders are suitable for heavy-duty work, Class EN131 are suitable for everyday work and Class III are for domestic tasks only.

A ladder extended to a house roof

Check Your Footing

  • Is the ladder placed on level ground? Sloping or moveable ground can cause the ladder to slip when in use.
  • Are there hazards around the base of the ladder that need removing, such as wet leaves, oil or mud?
  • Do the ladder rungs run parallel (horizontally) with the floor?
  • Is the ladder fixed at regular intervals or do you have a stability device in place to prevent it from slipping and falling?
  • Is the top of the ladder resting against a strong surface, such as a brick wall? Weak surfaces, like plastic guttering and glass, easily break and should be avoided.
  • Is the ladder at a 75° angle – 1 unit out for every 4 units up? If this angle cannot be achieved then do not use the ladder.

Do An Inspection

  • Has the ladder been checked for defects before use?
  • Are the rungs and stiles bent or damaged? Are the feet missing, worn or damaged?If so, remove the ladder from use.
  • On a stepladder, does the locking mechanism engage fully? If not, do not use the ladder.
  • Are the steps or feet contaminated with dirt? If so, remove the ladder from use and ensure it is properly cleaned before using.
  • Has a regular formal inspection of the ladder been done? Are there records of this to show any defects that were found?

Climb With Care

  • Are you ascending and descending the ladder one rung at a time?
  • Are you facing the direction of the rungs when climbing?
  • Are you moving too quickly? Quick climbing can cause the ladder to ‘bounce’ and lose footing so always move slowly.
  • Can you maintain 3 points of contact at all times, i.e. two feet and one hand?
  • Are you overreaching or leaning sideways to reach your task? If so, reposition the ladder so that it’s facing the work activity, or select a ladder with greater height.
  • Are you carrying items up the ladder? If so, use a tool belt to ensure your hands are free to grip the ladder as you climb.

Once all of the above questions have been considered then you should be ready to start your task – the key point here is to always assess the situation, inspect the ladder and climb with care.

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