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Once your belt buckle crosses the edge of the ladder . . .
Once your belt buckle crosses the edge of the ladder . . .

safety logoUse the correct type/length of ladder.
Inspect before EVERY use.
Store properly to avoid damage.


Adapted from "A Safe Climb" in Safety + Health by Keith Howard, associate editor.
Uses material from EH&S and OSHA.

Ladder accidents are one of the major sources of injury on the job.
Gravity is not our friend when heights are enough to cause significant injury.

Correct angle matters too. Center image is just right..
  • Do the training. Doing it 'this way' for years does not mean it is safe.

  • Use the correct ladder type (ext, step, straight), size (length) and material made from.

  • Your weight + weight of materials carried: Light = 200lbs, Medium = 225, Heavy = 250, Extra Heavy = 300, Special Duty = 375

  • Inspect each ladder before using: grease/oil, paint/decals hiding defects, loose steps, screws, etc., damaged non-slip bases.

  • Label defective ladders so no one else uses it. Don't just put it back. Destroy ones that can't be repaired.

  • Transport with care: blind corners, aisles, door ways. Labs have lots of hazards that could be hit.

  • Look for nearby hazards: as above, but also boxes, trip hazards, electrical cords, etc. Cones to divert traffic.

  • ONLY on a level surface, never on something else to gain height. Step ladders should be in the locked position.

  • Angle for 75 degrees or 1/4 height to wall. Too far out = break or slip. Too far in = fall backwards.

  • Free of mud, grease, or other substances that could cause a slip or fall.

  • Ascending and descending: Two hands on the rails, one step at a time. Never slide down a ladder.

  • Three Points of Contact. Move only one appendage at a time. Carry tools on belt or raise/lower with line.

  • Don't stand on the top three steps or cleats of a ladder

  • Intended purpose: single and extension ladders are for vertical climbs, never as a horizontal scaffold.

  • Don't use a metal ladder near electrical work. Find a wood or fiberglass one.

  • Don't over extend: this will cause loss of balance. Keep the center of your belt buckle between the rails.

  • Don't lash two or more together: Ladders are designed for their specific length. Not even for one job.

  • A ladder should extend 3 feet above landing surface/roof line. Avoids tripping or having the ladder slip.

  • Avoid unsafe weather conditions: strong winds, storms, rain can cause loss of balance.

  • Consider alternatives: especially if over one story in height.

  • Store Properly: good ventilation, out of the weather, avoid heat or dampness.

  • Store on brackets to avoid warping. Keep accessible. You may need it in an emergency.

  • OSHA is just the beginning. Ladders are useful, but one of the leading causes of injury. Play it safe!

See also: EH&S Guidelines for Ladder Safety