Proper ladder safety can prevent ladder falls and even death.  Falls are the leading cause of death in construction and every year falls from ladders make up nearly a third of those deaths. These deaths are preventable. Falls from ladders can be prevented and lives can be saved by following the safe work practices.

When Should You Use a Ladder?

When you want to reach a higher work area, think about the best equipment to use.  While a ladder or stepladder is commonly used, it may not always be the best option. Ask yourself these questions before deciding on a ladder:

  • Will I have to hold heavy items while on the ladder?
  • Is the elevated area high enough that it would require a long ladder that can be unstable?
  • Will I be working from this height for a long time?
  • Do I have to stand on the ladder sideways in order to do this work?

If your answer is yes to one of the above questions, consider using something other than a ladder. If possible, bring in other equipment like a scissor lift. If you have to use a ladder, use one that has a working platform with handrail barricades on the sides (e.g., a platform stepladder).

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Use the right ladder for the job. For example, ensure the ladder is high enough for you to reach your work area without having to stand on the top rung.

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When using ladders to access another level, secure and extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the landing point to provide a safe hand hold.

The base of the ladder should be secured and the user should be wearing proper footwear (non-slip flat shoes).

Place the ladder on stable and level ground.  DO NOT place it on an uneven surface and ensure that the ladder is fully extended before starting work.

Prevent passersby from walking under or near ladders in use by using barriers (cones) or using a coworker as a lookout.

Do not work on the top rung of the ladder.

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Maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times and do not carry tools or materials in your hands while climbing the ladder.

Do not lean away from the ladder to carry out your task.  Always keep your weight centered between the side rails.

Do not use ladders near doorways.  In the event that you must place it near a doorway, make sure the door is locked.


Download the full OSHA Stepladder Guide Here.