Ladders of all kinds play key roles in a wide variety of different workplaces. From using extension ladders to complete trade work to using stepladders in stockrooms, ladders are vital in allowing employees to reach and work at various heights.
In order to prevent accidents in the workplace, ladder safety is incredibly important. Every employer should ensure that ladder safety training is put in place and that every employee knows how to use ladders correctly.
Taking safety information from the UK government, we’ve put together this handy guide on ladder safety in the workplace, explaining how different types of ladders should be used to prevent accidents and injuries.
Always check ladders before use
Before using a ladder, a pre-check should be carried out to spot any visual defects and make sure the ladder is safe to use.
This check should be carried out by the user of the ladders at the beginning of the working day, as well as after something has changed (for example, the ladders have been dropped or moved from one area to another).
Areas that need to be checked:
- Stiles – make sure they’re not bent or damaged
- Feet – make sure they aren’t missing, worn or damaged as that could make the ladder slip. Also make sure to check feet when moving from soft and dirty ground to a smooth surface, making sure the foot material is touching the ground and not any dirt
- Rungs – make sure they’re not bent, worn, missing or loose
- Locking mechanisms – if they’re bent, worn or damaged, the ladder could collapse. Also, ensure locking bars are engaged
- Stepladder platform – make sure it isn’t split or buckled to prevent collapse
- Steps or treads – if they are contaminated they could be slippery; if fittings are loose, they could collapse
Using ladders safely
Making sure the right ladder is chosen for a specific job is an essential part of ladder safety. All ladders have different load capacities, and if load capacity is exceeded, it could cause the ladders to collapse or buckle.
For more on ladder capacity, read our ladder load capacity guide now.
There are many different types of ladders to choose from, but most can be described as stepladders or leaning ladders.
Both of these have different safety precautions when in use:
Whether they’re small stepladders or folding stepladders, the following advice should be followed:
- Ensure all four stepladder feet are in contact with the ground
- Check the steps are level
- Only carry light materials and tools – do not go over the load capacity
- Avoid work that imposes a side loading – for example, side-on drilling
- Don’t overreach – avoid standing on the top 3 steps
- Make sure all tools are secure
Available in a wide range of different styles, leaning ladders are a popular type of ladder for construction work, heavy-duty work and industrial work.
- Only carry light materials and tools for the correct ladder for the job
- Don’t overreach – make sure your wrist stays within the styles if you’re near the top
- Position your ladder at a 75° angle, or 1 unit out for every 4 units up
- Don’t work from the top 3 rungs
- Make sure your ladder is positioned on stable, flat and non-slippery surfaces
- Wear a helmet
- Use a firm grip and three points of contact
Make sure to always check the description to ensure the ladders are suitable, with efficient load capacity.
Keep an eye on our blog for more handy guides and tips.