Weekly Safety Meeting – The Right Ladder for the Job

The Right Ladder for the Job

People fall off ladders, resulting in injuries that range from bruises, broken bones, or even death. There are several potential hazards when working with ladders. Poor condition, improper selection or improper use has contributed to numerous injuries. Proper ladder selection is vital in keeping the employee safe while climbing. You should be aware of a ladder’s weight and height limits. Also, it is critically important not to use a metal ladder near live electrical wires.

Each year in the U.S, more than twenty thousand people are rushed to the emergency room due to ladder related falls and accidents. Ladder falls and accidents and can result in severe injury and in some cases even death. The proper precautions must always be taken. Everyone should be taught how to use a ladder in the right way. If an employee is not trained properly on how to use a ladder, he or she could fall off the ladder, smash fingers and other body parts.

Improper use of the ladder is the most common contributing factor in ladder accidents. Ladders should only be used for their intended use.

Two questions you should ask each time you use a ladder are:

What condition is the ladder in?

Am I using the right ladder for the job?

Choosing the right ladder:

When choosing a ladder, first check the weight limit. Ladders are usually rated as follows:

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 Ladder Types




Special duty ladder that can support 375 pounds


Industrial ladder that can support 300 pounds


Heavy-duty industrial ladder with a load capacity not more than 250 pounds


Medium-duty commercial ladder with a load capacity not more than 225 pounds


Light-duty household ladder with a load capacity of 200 pounds

How to protect yourself:

  • Make sure you use the best ladder for the job. It should be the right design and constructed of the right material.

  • Do not use the ladder for any purposes other than those recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Never use a metal ladder or wire reinforced wood ladder when working near a live electrical conductor.

    o Use a ladder made of non-conductive materials, such as fiberglass, when doing electrical work.

  • The worker and the materials on the ladder should not exceed the recommended load limit.

  • Examine the ladder for any defects or damage.

    o Check for looseness between the rungs and the side rails, and check moving parts and bindings for too much play. Check for split or cracked wood, corroded metal and frayed ropes.

  • Wooden ladders should not be painted because this can hide defects; instead, they should be coated with a clear lacquer.

  • If you find a problem with the ladder, immediately withdraw it from service so it can be repaired or destroyed. Tag it “Do Not Use.”

  • Position the ladder correctly, the way it was designed to be used. Place the base on a solid, non-slip surface. Both of the rails should be supported at the top unless the ladder is designed for use with a single support attachment.

  • A straight ladder should be set up using the four-to-one rule. For every four feet that goes up in height, the base of the ladder should be placed one foot away from the wall.

  • Use both hands while climbing.

  • Do not carry tools or materials in your hands; carry small tools in a belt and use a hoist for larger items.

Ladders are a pretty simple type of equipment. But don’t allow that simplicity to get in the way of following safe procedures. As soon as you start feeling like an accident won’t happen, the possibility of it occurring skyrockets.

Ladder inspection is a must so you don’t end up in the dust! 



Download flyer: SMOTW_426_TheRightLadderfortheJob.pdf (121.93 kb)

Download Spanish flyer: SMOTW_426_TheRightLadderfortheJob_esp.pdf (122.24 kb)

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