Portable Ladders

You risk falling if portable ladders are not safely positioned each time they are used. While you are

on a ladder, it may move and slip from its supports. You can also lose your balance while getting

on or off an unsteady ladder. Falls from ladders can cause injuries ranging from sprains to death.

Extension ladders

  • Ensure that the base of the ladder is firmly and evenly positioned on a non-slippery, level surface
  • Ensure that the bottom ladder side rails are equipped with non-slip feet. Be aware that non-slip feet are not intended as a substitute for care in safely placing, lashing or holding a ladder that is being used upon oily, metal, concrete, or slippery surfaces
  • Position portable ladders so the side rails extend at least 3 feet above the landing
  • Secure side rails at the top to a rigid support and use a grab device when 3 foot extension is not possible
  • Ensure that both upper side rails are firmly and evenly supported. Support area should be at least 12 inches wide on both sides of the ladder

Foldout (Step) Ladders

  • Do not use the top or top step of a stepladder as a step
  • Do not use the cross bracing on the rear section of the ladder unless the ladder is specifically designed with steps on both sections
  • Metal spreader or locking devices must be provided on stepladders to hold the front and back section in an open position when the ladders are being used. Ensure that the spreaders are in good condition and securely connected
  • Don’t climb a closed step ladder. The feet are not design for this and there is a good likelihood that the ladder will slip out from under you

 Choosing the Correct Ladder

  • Only use ladders made of non-conductive material (fiberglass) if there is any potential for contact with electricity
  • Ensure the ladder is tall enough for the job


  • Always look for the loading label on the side of the ladder. Do not use a ladder that is missing the label
  • The label indicates the maximum load that the ladder may carry. The load includes the user and any materials and equipment

Proper Ladder Positioning

  • Non self-supporting ladders shall be used at an angle such that the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is approximately one-quarter of the working length of the ladder (4 - 1 rule)
  • A good rule of thumb is that if standing at the base of the ladder with your arms extended straight forward, your palms should fall on the rung directly in front of you


  • Inspect ladders prior to each use
  • Only use ladders that have an ANSSI A14 label. This label indicates that the ladder meets ANSI/OSHA design criteria
  • Do not use a ladder that exhibits structural defects including, but not limited to, broken or split rails, corroded components or other faulty or defective components
  • Ladders that fail inspection must be immediately tagged with “Dangerous, Do Not Use”

Safe Climbing Procedures

  • Do not use ladders that are wet or have oils, grease, wet paint or other slippery hazards
  • Never position a ladder in front of a doorway opening towards the ladder
  • Always remain centered on the ladder. Do not reach to the sides. Your belt buckle should never extend beyond either side rail
  • Always face the ladder when ascending or descending
  • Always move one step at a time and grip the ladder with at least one hand at all times. Maintain three points of contact (two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand)
  • Do not carry objects or loads that could cause loss of balance and falling