Step Up to the Safe Ladder Challenge


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Where would we be without ladders? Probably stuck on the ground! It would certainly be considerably harder to do certain jobs without our old pals the extension and step ladder. As helpful as they are on the job, they can become quite taken for granted. And that’s when ladder safety can get ignored.

Try to imagine what it would feel like to fall from six or eight feet onto concrete or the corner of a bench. Maybe you’d be one of the lucky few who walk away with just some cuts or bruises. Or, you might not walk away at all. Falls from portable ladders are one of the leading causes of occupational injuries and fatalities—especially in the contractor industry.

A dozen trips up and down in one day can become robotic and cause safe ladder use to become less deliberate. So it’s safe to say that paying attention to every step on or off of a ladder is not only important, it could be a lifesaver. Here are some recommended best practices to keep in mind every time you step onto a ladder:

  • Inspect it for defects before climbing on. If any are found, don’t use it!
  • Set the ladder on a stable, non-slippery, level surface.
  • Never stand on the top rung.
  • Fully open a step ladder and lock the metal spreader before climbing.
  • If necessary for stability, tie the top and bottom of the ladder to fixed points.
  • On every climb up or down, stay centered between the rails, and face the ladder.
  • If you must carry tools or equipment, use a tool belt or hoist.
  • Do not “hop” the ladder to a different spot.
  • Keep your weight balanced. Stand with both feet on the same rung. When possible, don’t push or pull objects while on the ladder (exception: using a hoist).
  • Extension ladder stability requires a specific angle: for every four feet of ladder length, the base should be one foot out from the wall/vertical support.
  • The top of extension ladders should go at least three feet above the upper landing.

Just like any other piece of construction equipment, ladders deserve your respect and attention. They’re there to help you do your job, but they can also become a hazard if not used properly. When it comes to unsafe ladder use, don’t go there!

This article is only for general information and recommendations regarding risk prevention and should not be considered legal or other expert advice. The recommendations presented may help reduce or eliminate the risk of loss, but are not guaranteed to do so. Seek qualified counsel with questions specific to your circumstances. ©2015 Federated Mutual Insurance Company.

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