Safety talk - Ladder safety — Stepladders

We’ve all worked with stepladders at some time in our lives, either at work or at home. The risk of falling from a ladder is present in virtually every kind of workplace. It may occur in many forms, from standing on a ladder to change a light bulb to retrieving boxes from a top shelf. Using a stepladder is as commonplace as falling off one.

To make your interaction with a ladder less hazardous:

  • Inspect it for faults, such as broken rungs or rails, before each use. Check to ensure the footings and pads provide a non-skid surface. If any defect is found, take the ladder out of service. If it can’t be fixed, dispose of it properly.
  • Set a ladder on level and stable ground. Don’t set it up on a muddy surface or you may find yourself falling over. Don’t use bricks or other material to raise the height of the ladder. If it’s not tall enough, you’re using the wrong ladder.
  • Position the ladder to avoid overreaching. Reposition the ladder whenever necessary.
  • Don’t climb higher than the second tread from the top on stepladders.
  • Before stepping onto a stepladder, make sure the folding cross braces are locked in the proper position.
  • Select the proper stepladder for the job
    – Type IAA/special duty–rugged (375 lbs.)
    – Type IA/extra heavy duty–industrial (300 lbs.)
    – Type I/industrial stepladder–three to 20 feet for heavy duty, such as utilities, contracting, and industrial use (250 lbs. max)
    – Type II/commercial stepladder–three to 12 feet for medium duty, such as painting, office, and light industrial use (225 lbs.   max)
    – Type III/household stepladder – not meant for commercial use (200 lbs. max)

Remember, chairs and desks aren’t ladders. Setting up a ladder takes less time than a trip to the hospital.

By following the above rules, you greatly reduce your chances of being injured while working on stepladders. Falling from a ladder can lead to a serious, disabling injury for you, changing not only your life but also the lives of your family


Remember, you set the tone for safety on the job site. When employees see that you are committed to safety, they will follow your lead.

  • Purchase stepladders appropriate for the tasks your employees perform. Only purchase approved stepladders.
  • Ensure that all employees understand and use the right ladder for each task.
  • Maintain a 3-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) when climbing/descending a ladder.
  • Routinely inspect all ladders.
  • Take any defective stepladder out of service. If it can’t be fixed, make sure it’s disposed of properly.
  • Employees are more likely to slip and fall if they feel rushed. Always ensure that employees know that safety is their number-one job.
  • Keep a stepladder near any areas where materials are out of reach. An employee is more likely to use a chair or other furniture if a stepladder is not close at hand.

TOPIC: Ladder Safety – Stepladders

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