Planning, preparation, and careful positioning are all required before ladders can be used safely.


  • Perform a hazard assessment, identifying the type of work to be performed and what hazards will be present (e.g., unstable ground, electrical lines, doors, or weather)
  • Select the right type and size of ladder for the job, assuring load capacity is not exceeded; for example, do not use metal ladders for electrical work or in places where the potential of contact with electrical lines exists
  • Assure that the ladder is in good physical condition — all rungs must be intact, or the ladder should be immediately removed from service

Set-Up Principles


  • Choose a location near your workspace, so that all work is performed close to the ladder and not off to either side
  • Only set up ladders in safe and stable conditions
  • Do not place ladders on soft ground or slippery flooring
  • Do not rest ladders on glass or other weak surfaces
  • Check for overhead power lines

Restricting access:

If you are working in an area near people or vehicles, restrict access by:

  • Clearly posting signs
  • Barricading the location with barrier tape around the perimeter of the work area
  • Having an assistant stay at the base of the ladder to keep it clear, as needed

Ladder positioning:

  • Assure that all non-self-supporting ladders extend at least three feet above the highest support point. (e.g., the roof line)
  • Angle non-self-supporting ladders properly, with a 4:1 ratio. That means the distance between the top of the ladder and the ground is at least four times the distance between the base of the ladder and the wall
  • Place non-self-supporting ladders so that both rails have equal support
  • Secure ladders appropriately with tie-offs at the top of the ladder

Other guidelines:

  • Seek help if a ladder is too heavy or awkward to place correctly on your own

With some focus on the details, you can ensure that you and your team stay safe when utilizing ladders on your project.

​​​​​​​Until next time…Work Safe, Be Safe!

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