Safety Tips

Step Ladders

Stepping Into Safety

Proper use of step ladders is another important step in a positive approach to safety. Step ladders are useful, versatile, and at times hazardous. Step ladders are so commonly used everyone thinks they know all about them.

Unfortunately there are enough accidents involving step ladders that show people often don't know how to use them correctly. Falls from step ladders are very common - your knowledge of safety rules can prevent step ladder accidents from happening on site.

There is no such thing as a good fall. Even a fall from a low height can result in a serious head injury or broken bones. So think about your safety plans before you set up your ladder.

Follow safe work procedures and you will reduce the risk of falls and other accidents. Read and understand the manufacturers operating manual/decals.

Setting Up

When you are setting up a step ladder:

Read and understand the manufacturers instructions/ decals
Make sure your manufactured step ladder complies with CSA and ANSI standards
Open the step ladder as far as it will go
Lock the spreader arms in place
Push the bracket shelf down into place
Make sure the ladder is placed on an even surface and within easy reach of your work
Don't stand a ladder on ice or snow
Don't use an unstable object - like a rock or a brick - to level the ladder's feet
If you are setting up in front of a closed door, open the door or lock it
In some instances, you may be required to use a personal fall arrest system when using a step ladder. Refer to Fall Protection sheet


Always inspect the ladder before using it. Look for:

Twisted or jammed parts
Loose screws, rivets or rungs

If you find something wrong with your step ladder - don't use it! Get a new one or repair it.

Do not paint a wooden ladder - paint may hide cracks and splits. Use a clear wood preservative instead so you can examine the ladder properly.

Balancing Your Safety Act

Climbing and balancing on a ladder requires skill and technique. Don't get fancy or you may pay the price.

Make sure your ladder is at a safe angle and stabilized
Always climb and descend facing the ladder
Use both hands to hold onto the upper steps (not the side rails)
Climb the ladder one step at a time
Do not stand on the top two rungs unless it has a railed platform at the top or the manufacturer permits it; otherwise if you need to get higher, get a longer ladder
Set tools or objects on the bracket shelf of the ladder - don't climb or descend with them in your hands
Don't work with anything heavy in one hand - such as a paint bucket. Set it on the bracket shelf
A good rule of thumb to maintain your balance: keep your belt buckle between the ladder's side rails - don't stretch or overextend yourself

Reach for the Top

Many falls or accidents at home happen because of simple mistakes. Far too often home safety is not a household priority. Bad habits and old habits die hard.

When you're on the job, you're looking out for others. Do the same at home. Teach your children that chairs and unstable objects should not be used in place of a step ladder. A mini-step ladder and a full-size step ladder are very useful around the home and in the yard.

Make sure you not only teach the correct procedures - use them yourself. Be a positive role model!

Take care that all your family members use the ladder properly every time they need it. Use the safety rules from work as your guide. Be sure the ladder is firmly secured and that no one reaches or extends too far. Your shared work experience can avoid a minor accident or a catastrophe in your home.

Tango Tales

Taking unnecessary risks on step ladders may give you an unwanted vacation - in a hospital. Here's what one worker said just before his vacation..."Who has to worry about step ladders? I can stand on the top rung on one foot and do the tango. So don't nag me about step ladders.

Don't fall for it. Check your attitude and your procedures. A fall from any height is dangerous.