Our Online Ladder Safety Training Course is now available for purchase and will guide you through all aspects of ladders including hazard identification, ladder types, set up, PPE, maintenance, storage & handling, and inspection.

How to set up your ladder

The first step to setting up a ladder is ensuring the environment is suitable. Some common things to avoid are high winds, ice and snow, uneven ground, overhead wires, and pedestrians walking by. After making sure your work area is safe and clear, you should make sure that the feet of the ladder are firmly planted on solid ground.

On non-self-supporting ladders like extension ladders, you should make sure the ladder is set up at an appropriate angle from the base of the wall, and the top of the ladder should be three rungs above the top of the wall.

What ladder should you use

After making sure your surroundings are safe and clear, you are ready to pick the right ladder for the job. There are three main styles of ladders available.

Self-Supporting Ladder – These ladders able to hold themselves up with 3 or more rails, and are generally shorter than other styles.

Non-Self-Supporting Ladder – These ladders must lean against something to be used properly, and are generally the longest ladders available that can be moved.

Fixed ladders – These ladders are mounted permanently to surfaces that need to be climbed, where other ladders cannot always be managed.

How to inspect your ladders

A ladder should be thoroughly inspected prior to every use, each part of the ladder should be in good working condition. If any single part of a ladder is broken, it should immediately be removed from service.

The main parts of every ladder that should be inspected prior to each use include the Rungs, Side Rails, Anti-Slip Feet, Ropes, Braces, and Safety Rails.

What can you do to keep safe when using a ladder

Ensure the ladder you are using can reach the height you want, never improvise to make the ladder reach higher.

If your ladder is not ideally positioned, descend and reposition the ladder.

If your ladder does not have a wide enough platform, consider using an aerial lift, scaffold or platform ladder.

Never share a ladder unless it is intended for that purpose. If two people need to use a ladder, take turns or use two ladders.

Carrying items
You must maintain three points of contact when ascending or descending a ladder. Consider wearing a tool belt, having someone hand you the items, or use a towline.

Do you need fall protection on a ladder

When working very high up on a ladder, you may need to wear fall protection equipment. This may be mandatory after a certain height, often at 3 meters, but you should check your local jurisdiction.

The typical equipment is a ladder-climbing harness with a fall arrester, and a vertical lifeline attached to an anchor point. With fixed ladders, a rail may be used in place of the lifeline. Hands-on training is required when using fall protection equipment.

How to properly maintain your ladders

Ladders, like any other tool, require proper maintenance in order to remain in good working condition. There are six steps to maintaining a ladder that should be followed.
1. Set up a regularly scheduled maintenance program to monitor ladder conditions.
2. Always keep the rungs, rails, and feet clean to prevent corrosion and slipping.
3. Check the slip-resistant pads on the ladder’s feet to ensure the ladder will not move while you use it.
4. Check the ropes of an extension ladder to ensure there are no cuts, frayed strands, or loose attachments.
5. Keep any moving parts clean and lubricated on a ladder, such as pivoting connections or extension cam locks.
6. Never paint a wooden ladder, paint will hide flaws in the ladder and will ruin a visual inspection.

Published: November 6, 2019
Last Modified: November 5, 2019