Making Ladder Safety A Priority

March is National Ladder Safety Month, an annual initiative that encourages individuals to educate themselves on how to use ladders safely. If your employees utilize ladders to work from heights, it’s crucial they understand proper safety protocols. Otherwise, such ladder use could result in serious injuries. In fact, 20% of annual fall-related workplace injuries stem from poor ladder usage, whereas more than 40% of fatal falls over the last decade have involved ladders. Don’t let your employees become a statistic. Share the following ladder safety measures with your workforce:

  • Make sure the weight that your ladder is supporting (i.e., you plus your materials) does not exceed its maximum load rating.
  • Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Never overreach; instead, descend from the ladder while maintaining three points of contact and move it to a better position.
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down.
What is the safest ladder material to use in your industry?
If you said fiberglass, you were correct. It is the only ladder material that does not conduct electricity. Did you know that when wood ladders are moist, dirty or oil-soaked, they can conduct electricity too?  

Ladders pose special safety hazards, but by following proper safety guidelines, worksite injuries and deaths caused by ladder misuse can be significantly reduced. Most of these accidents occur due to failure to follow basic ladder safety. To help prevent ladder injuries, practice the following safety tips.  

Setting up Safely
Make sure you select the correct ladder for the job—check the length and duty rating. Proper length is a minimum of three feet extending over the roofline or working surface. Inspect your ladder before each any of the following loose or damaged parts:

  • Steps
  • Rungs
  • Spreaders
  • Rung dogs
  • Safety feet
  • Other parts 

Clear the area where you will be working. Never place a ladder in front of a door that isn’t locked, blocked or guarded. Because metal ladders conduct electricity, use a wooden or fiberglass ladder near powerlines or electrical equipment.

Check that all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged before placing your ladder on a steady surface. The ground underneath the ladder should be level and firm. Large, flat wooden boards braced underneath a ladder can help level it on an uneven surface or soft ground. Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at approximately a 75 degree angle.

Use the 1:4 ratio to ensure your safety when on a ladder. Place the base of the ladder one foot away from whatever it’s leaning against for every four feet of height up to the point of contact for the top of the ladder.

Use Caution
Always exercise caution when using a ladder with the following safety considerations:

  • Make sure the weight that your ladder is supporting does not exceed its maximum load rating (user plus materials). And only one person should be on a ladder at a time.
  • Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to the side while working. Never overreach. Instead, descend from the ladder and move it to a better position.
  • Do not step on the top step, bucket shelf, or attempt to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.
  • Always face the ladder when climbing up or down. Never leave a raised ladder unattended.
  • Slowly step down from a ladder if you feel dizzy or tired.
  • Non-slip footwear should be worn at all times when on a ladder.


By taking these steps, your workers can stay safe on ladders and avoid potential injuries.