Ladder Safety: Selection, Placement, Use

“Its simplicity makes many often misjudge its true risk.”

Standing on Ladder, Hardwood Floor


Ladder safety may seem like common sense, and most would scoff at the idea of being told how to use a ladder. However, this stubbornness and lack of attention leads to a whole array of issues. The majority of occupational fall accidents involve a ladder. Everyone assumes they know how to use a ladder properly. Its simplicity makes many often misjudge its true risk.


Ladder Selection

Do you need a step ladder, a stand-alone ladder, or an extension ladder? Select your ladder based on not only what task(s) it will be used for, but more importantly, what hazards you may encounter. The correct ladder must also be selected based on the height(s) it is intended to reach. Ladders must meet safety regulations for whatever task they are being used for. Also, every ladder comes with a load rating based on the weights it will likely hold. The load rating is meant to be much higher for a ladder on a construction site than a step ladder that someone uses in their garage at home.  



Ladder placement is often the biggest culprit for ladder accidents. There are two keys to ensuring a ladder is secure and safe to climb. The base must be on stable, level ground to start. It is often wise to have someone support the bottom of the ladder while the user climbs up it. If you are leaning a ladder against a structure, the ladder should be placed at a safe angle. The distance from the foot of the ladder to the structure should be approximately ¼ the length of the ladder itself. Placement is a simple step to ensure that nothing goes wrong once the ladder is in use.



The biggest cause of ladder falls is incorrect use. A ladder should never be used for any purpose other than what it was manufactured for. This includes standing on the top rungs to reach something higher than the ladder is intended to reach. When climbing, it is a rule of thumb that three points of contact should be maintained at all times. Also, ensure that the rungs are clean and free of mud or oily substances. Extension cords and other hazards should be kept at a safe distance from ladders to avoid any hazards.


Ladders are one of the most common pieces of equipment in any construction related setting. Realizing that they are a serious safety concern can easily keep you safe on one. They are not hard to use, you must simply treat them like a proper tool and keep safety in mind.

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