Feb 10, 2013

The following is a comprehensive ladder safety guide.

One of the most commonly used pieces of equipment for the painter or DIY person is the ladder. Ladders provide access to all those areas which are difficult to reach due to their height.

Ladder Safety Guide: What are ladders?

Ladders are a framework consisting of two parallel sidepieces (rails) connected by rungs on which a person steps when climbing up or down. There are many types of ladders, each designed for a specific purpose and climbing conditions e.g. Portable ladders are defined as ladders that can be moved or carried; fixed ladders are permanently attached to a structure and cannot be moved.

Ladders come in various lengths/sizes and are made from various materials e.g. wood, fiberglass and aluminium.

Ladder Safety Guide: The 2 most commonly used ladders are:

  • Step Ladders
  • Extension Ladders



Ladder Safety Guide: When using a ladder always consider the following:

Selecting the correct ladder for the job at hand is important to complete the job as safely and efficiently as possible. When selecting a ladder, consider its features and how it meets the job. Always consider the highest duty rating and weight limit needed, as well as the height requirements. A ladder that is too long or too short does not allow the work surface to be reached easily or comfortably.

Before using a ladder it is important to check the condition of the ladder.
Look for the following:

  • Corrosion of metal ladders
  • Ropes that are missing or worn
  • Hardware that is missing or loose
  • Rails that are split, cracked, or dented
  • Pulleys that are missing, broken, or loose
  • Rungs or steps that are missing, broken, or loose
  • Rails that form loose connections with the steps or rungs
  • Accessories, such as non-slip devices, that are missing, broken, loose or worn
  • Locks or spreaders that are missing, broken, worn, or do not engage properly
  • Excessive weathering of wooden and fiberglass ladders, such as degradation or fading from ultraviolet sunlight

Ladder Safety Guide: When using a ladder follow these basic safety principles:

  • Do not use an extension ladder upside down
  • Avoid using a ladder in windy or stormy weather
  • Never use pallets, skids or other objects as ladders
  • Do not skip rungs or steps when climbing up or down
  • Test every rung or step before putting your full weight on it
  • Never stand or sit on the top cap or the paint shelf of a stepladder
  • Never leave a ladder in position and unattended, especially near children
  • Grasp the ladder firmly and always face the ladder when climbing up or down
  • Keep the area around the top and bottom of a ladder free from clutter and debris
  • Never allow more than one person on a ladder at a time unless it is made for two-person use
  • Always move or extend a ladder from the ground—never the roof—and never while it is occupied
  • Do not carry anything on a ladder that may cause loss of balance or a fall. Haul job materials or tools with a rope hoist
  • Never use a ladder in a manner for which it was not designed. For example, do not use a stepladder as a straight ladder
  • Follow the three-point rule: at least three parts of your body—either two feet and a hand or two hands and a foot—should be in contact with the ladder at all times. Keep your body centred on the ladder and do not overreach. Climb down and reposition the ladder, if necessary.
  • Clean grease, oil, mud, wet paint or any slippery material from the rungs or steps of a ladder and from the bottom of work boots before climbing
  • Never climb higher than the highest standing level marked on a ladder, generally the third or fourth rung from the top of a straight or extension ladder or the second step from the top of a stepladder

If you have any questions or queries call the Plascon Advisory Service

0860 20 40 60

or see our