Checklist: Ladder Safety

Ladders, like many other pieces of equipment that are used often and taken for granted, require care. Every worker needs to be certain that the ladder being used is strong enough to support him and the load that may be carried without fear of tipping over. Workers who think of a ladder as a tool will be more aware of ladder safety and less likely to take chances when using a ladder. Use the following checklist as a guide, first for inspecting a ladder and second for ensuring that safety precautions are taken when using the ladder.
Ladder inspection
Are all the rungs, cleats, or steps in good condition?
Are the side rails intact without any cracks, bends, or breaks?
Do the rungs, cleats, or steps fit snuggly into the side rails?
Is the ladder free of corrosion?
Are the side rails and steps free of oil or grease?
Are the ladder's hardware and fittings secure and undamaged?
Do moveable parts operate freely without binding or excessive play?
Are the ropes on extension ladders intact without fraying or excessive wear?
Are damaged ladders removed from service and marked "Do not use"?
Safe Ladder Procedures
Did you select a ladder with adequate length and load limits? Don't use metal ladders near electrical lines.
Are you using the ladder for its intended purpose?
  • Don't use a ladder as a brace, skid, lever, gangway, platform, scaffold, plank, or material hoist.
  • Don't tie ladders together to make them longer.
  • Don't use a stepladder as a straight ladder.
Did you set up the ladder on a firm, solid surface?
  • Don't place a ladder on boxes or blocks to make it taller.
  • Don't set up a ladder on a scaffold to gain extra height.
  • Don't set up a ladder on a slippery or icy surface.
Are you securing or barricading the ladder to protect it from being bumped when you have to work in doorways, passageways, or driveways?
Is the area around the top and bottom of the ladder clear?
Is your stepladder fully opened with the spreaders locked to keep the ladder stable?
Have you set up your straight ladder using the 4 to 1 rule? (1 foot from the wall for each 4 feet of ladder length.)
Have you set up your straight ladder so the rails are supported equally at the top?
Is the straight ladder set up so the top extends at least 3 feet above the support point?
Are you using your extension ladder so the upper section overlaps the lower section, and the overlap is on the climbing side with the rungs locked in place?
Do you face the ladder when ascending or descending?
Do you use both hands to grip the side rails whenever possible? Always use at least one hand to grasp the ladder when climbing, and don't carry any object or load that could cause you to lose balance.
Do you use a ladder safety device when needed on fixed ladders?
Do you stay off of the top 2 steps of a stepladder?
Do you stay off the back section of a stepladder?
Do you stay off the top 4 rungs of a straight ladder?
Is only one person allowed on the ladder at a time?
Do you hoist tools or other materials up to you after you've reached the top of the ladder? Wear a toolbelt to help you manage tools while you're working on a ladder.
Do you work within the side rails? If your belt buckle goes past the side rail, you are leaning too far. Descend and move the ladder as needed to stay close to your work.
Do you store the ladder in a secure designated area after use?