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Safety Moment: Ladder Safety

March is National Ladder Safety Month.

This event was created to raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities.
The goals of National Ladder Safety Month are to:

  • Raise awareness of ladder safety.
  • Decrease injuries and fatalities caused by ladder misuse.
  • Increase the number of people certified in Ladder Safety Training.

National Ladder Safety Month 2024 will focus on four key themes:

  • Training and Awareness
  • Inspection and Maintenance
  • Stabilization, Setup, and Accessories
  • Safe Climbing and Positioning

5 Ladder Safety Tips

  1. Choose the right ladder and check the Weight Rating.
  2. Always inspect the ladder before using it.
  3. Make sure the ladder is stable before beginning to climb it.
  4. Make sure that you are stable as you climb or stand on a ladder.
  5. Do not carry items with you as you climb the ladder.

Portable Ladder Safety

Falls from portable ladders (step, straight, combination, and extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries.

  • Read and follow all labels/markings on the ladder.
  • Avoid electrical hazards! Look for overhead power lines before handling a ladder. Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment.
  • Always inspect the ladder before using it. If the ladder is damaged, it must be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.
  • Always maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder while climbing.
  • Only use ladders and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers, jacks, or hooks) for their designed purposes.
  • Ladders must be free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps, or feet.
  • Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.
  • Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
  • Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface unless it has been secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement.
  • Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels, or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.
  • Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
  • An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support. Do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single, or extension ladder.
  • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
  • A ladder placed in any location where it can be displaced by other work activities must be secured to prevent displacement or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder.
  • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
  • Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the ladder’s load rating and of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment.
Ladder Safety

The Three Point-of-Contact Climb

Factors contributing to falls from ladders include haste, sudden movement, lack of attention, the condition of the ladder (worn or damaged), the user’s age or physical condition, or both, and the user’s footwear.

  • Although the user’s weight or size typically does not increase the likelihood of a fall, improper climbing posture creates user clumsiness and may cause falls. Reduce your chances of falling during the climb by:
  • Wearing slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles to prevent foot fatigue.
  • Cleaning the soles of shoes to maximize traction.
  • Using towlines, a tool belt, or an assistant to convey materials so that the climber’s hands are free when climbing.
  • Climbing slowly and deliberately while avoiding sudden movements
  • Not attempting to move a ladder while standing on it.
  • Keeping the center of your belt buckle (stomach) between the ladder side rails when climbing and while working. Do not overreach or lean while working so that you don’t fall off the ladder sideways or pull the ladder over sideways while standing on it.

When climbing a ladder, it is safest to utilize Three Points of Contact because it minimizes the chances of slipping and falling from the ladder. At all times during ascent, descent, and working, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs, and/or side rails. In this way, the climber is not likely to become unstable in the event one limb slips during the climb. It is important to note that the climber must not carry any objects in either hand that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder. Otherwise, Three Points of Contact with the ladder cannot be adequately maintained and the chance of falling is increased in the event a hand or foot slip occurs.

Ladder Safety at Home

Changing light bulbs around the house? Trying to get that glass down from the top shelf in the kitchen? Ladders are constantly used around the home and more often than not, they’re being used incorrectly.

Don’t let a simple task put you out of commission with a serious injury. Ladder injuries are more common than you think:

Ladder Injuries

For more information visit these links:

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Ladder Safety App:

American Ladder Institute:

Occupational Safety & Health Administration – Portable ladders:

Ladder Safety Training (free!):

Ladder Safety Checklist:



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