The incorrect use of ladders results in numerous accidents and is a major cause of injury in the performance of overhead work. Make-shift ladders are not permitted on any job, and only ladders of good quality material, properly designed and constructed, should be used. All ladders should be maintained in good condition at all times. The joint between the step and side rail must be tight. All hardware and fittings must be securely attached, and moveable parts shall operate fully without binding or undue play. Frayed or worn rope shall be replaced. Safety feet and other auxiliary equipment shall be kept in good condition. Rungs must be kept free of oil and grease. Ladders should be stored properly in a dry area when not in use.

Inspect the ladder before you use it. All ladders that develop defects will be removed from service for repairs or destroyed if they cannot be repaired. Any ladder that is temporarily placed out of service for repairs should be tagged "Dangerous - Do Not Use". The tag should also contain the supervisor's name and date. Once the supervisor has placed the tag, it should not be removed by anyone until the supervisor has checked and is satisfied that the ladder is properly repaired and safe. Then that supervisor can remove the tag.

Wooden ladders stored horizontally should be supported at both ends, and in the middle, to avoid sagging and loosening the rungs or warping the rails. Ladders transported on University vehicles must be properly secured and proper signage must be used for overhang. Ladders should not be painted, as paint tends to hide defects.

Do not remove Safety Instruction tag from ladder.

Ladder Selection                 badlad.gif (255514 bytes)                 goodlad.gif (226881 bytes)

When selecting a ladder, make sure it is of sufficient height to reach the work area and make sure that you are not using a ladder with too low a weight rating. Avoid standing on the top rung. For personal safety, the ladder should be long enough so the employee can work standing no higher than the third rung from the top on a straight ladder and no higher than the second step from the top on a step ladder. If it is necessary to get to the roof area, there should be at least three rungs extended above the roof line. Do not use a metal ladder near electrical llines or energeized electrical equipment.

Ladder Placement

Ladders should always be secured, either by tying them or having someone hold them to prevent the ladder from shifting. (This does not apply to step ladders. However, have someone hold the step ladder if it is not possible to put the ladder on level ground). Make sure ladders are not placed against window glass. Ladders placed against a pole or round column could slip or turn.

Never stand ladders on boxes, stacks of pallets or other makeshift objects to increase height. Before climbing a ladder, make sure it is at the proper angle. An angle of about 75 degrees from horizontal is suggested when using a straight ladder. (Ladder base 1/4 from the height of the ladder, from the wall) If the base is moved out further, the stress on the side rails is more severe and the wider angle may cause slippage.

Ladders should be placed on flat, non-slippery surfaces. Check the surface in advance.

Do not place ladders in front of doors that are being used by pedestrians. Occupants should be notified to use an alternate exit, and the door must be properly guarded. During an emergency, adequate exits must be available.

Keep base of ladder free of tools, debris, etc.

Ladders should not be left standing when not in use. They should be placed out of the way to prevent a tripping hazard.

Ladders should not be used in a horizontal position as a platform or scaffold.

Stepladders should not be used as extension ladders by leaning them against equipment. All ladders must be fully opened with spreaders locked. No one is permitted on the top step or rung at any time.

Keep both feet on the ladder rungs when working. Keep the body inside the side rails. Never reach out or lean out - change the positonn of the ladder to reach the work.

Face the ladder when working from it. Always hold on with one hand. Only one person is permitted on a portable ladder at a time.

Both hands are required when going up or down a ladder. Check shoes and rungs for slippery surfaces. Tools and materials should be hoisted to upper areas by use of tool belts or hand lines. If possible, have someone hand you the tools. Dropping materials from any height creates a hazardous condition.

Proper barricades and signs are necessary when ladders are being used, i.e., "Keep Clear - Working Above". Do not allow others to work under a ladder in use.

Remember the 4 to 1 rule: Place the base of the ladder 1 foot from the wall for every 4 feet between the base and the support point. For example, if it is 8 feet from the base of a ladder to its support point, the base of the ladder should be 2 feet away from the building.

University of the Sciences in Philadelphia • 600 South Forty-third Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495 • phone: 215-596-8800 • email: