ESD 112 Insurance Programs Safety Talks
Ladders are a common tool that many employees take for granted. Although they are easy to use, they are often misused, causing serious injuries or deaths.
Practice these five rules to avoid injury:

1. Make sure workers are trained:
  • Vector Solutions (SafeSchools) has an online ladder safety training course.
  • The American Ladder Institute has free training courses at:
2. Choose the right ladder for the job:
  • Make sure the ladder is the correct type and length for the job. Stepladders are used when you need a free-standing ladder. Extension ladders may be required for high work.
  • Duty ratings are given to ladders by their manufacturers based on the maximum weight that can be safely supported. The weight of the worker and the weight of any tools or materials carried onto the ladder must be less than the duty rating.
  • Never use a metal ladder when working around electricity.
3. Make sure the ladder is in good condition:
  • Inspect the ladder before each use. Ladders can be damaged while in transit or storage, and through use or abuse.
  • Check all parts to make sure they are in good working order and free from corrosion, rust, rot, cracks, and other defects. Look for missing, damaged, or loose components.
  • Make sure all rungs are free of slippery substances, such as mud and oil.
  • Defective ladders should be tagged and placed out of service.
4. Set up the ladder correctly:
  • Get help with a ladder that is too heavy to handle alone. Repeated handling of large or heavy ladders can result in back, shoulder and knee injuries, as well as sprains and strains.
  • Be sure that all ladder feet are on firm, level ground. Don’t place on slippery surfaces.
  • Stepladders should be fully open and spreaders firmly locked in place.
  • Straight ladders should be placed at an angle so that the base is one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height. Always be sure that the locks are fully engaged.
  • To gain access to a roof, the ladder should extend at least three rungs above the roof’s edge.
  • Don’t set up ladders in areas such as doorways or walkways where others may run into them, unless they are protected by barriers.
  • If possible, have another person hold the ladder when you are working on it.
5. Work safely on the ladder:
  • Climb facing the ladder. Maintain a three-point contact when climbing a ladder. That means two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand are always in contact with the ladder.
  • Stay centered while working, never lean to the side. Your belt buckle should always remain between the two side rails.
  • Get off the ladder to move it.
  • Keep tools in a belt, or hoist objects up after you. Do not carry items in your hands when you climb.
  • Shoe soles should be clean and made of non-skid material.
  • Don’t stand above the second step from the top of a stepladder and above the fourth rung from the top of an extension ladder.
  • Don’t climb a closed stepladder or the back of a stepladder.
  • Many injuries occur when missing the bottom rung while descending the ladder. As you near the ground, keep close tabs on how close you are to the ground.
More information is available from the Department of Labor & Industries in their publication, Ladder Safety Guide-A reference guide to safe ladder use and best practices for preventing accidents.
If you have any questions, please contact Trista Greenwood at or Wendy Niehaus at
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