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Safe use of Ladders and Stepladders


Most of us will need to use a ladder or stepladder to carry out certain tasks at some point, whether at work or home. It could be changing a light bulb, reaching for a book or painting a wall.

Ladders and stepladders are not banned under health and safety legislation, but they need to be used with care. This article covers some practical tips for using ladders and stepladders sensibly and safely and looks at what you should do and should not do to use ladders and stepladders safely.

Ladder Accident Statistics

Falls from height remain one of the biggest causes of injuries. Almost half of the fatal injuries to workers over the last five years were accounted for by just two different accident kinds - falls from a height and being struck by a moving vehicle.

Falls from height accounted for 25% of all fatal injuries and 8% of all non-fatal injuries. An average of 37 deaths per year. The use of ladders comes under the Work at Height Regulations 2005, which covers all work where there is a risk of a fall from a height.

Source: RIDDOR - HSE Annual Statistics 2019

Legislation - Use of Ladders in the Workplace

The legislation is quite specific about the use of ladders in the workplace. Ladders should only be used:

All work at height should be kept to a minimum. Before starting the task, a risk assessment should be carried out. This will vary in complexity and will be much simpler for some tasks than others. When we think of work at height, we might visualise:

All who work at height for a living.

However, many of us may be tempted to go ahead with a seemingly simple task, such as changing a light bulb, but even simple tasks can be dangerous and require a risk assessment which will analyse the task and highlight the hazards.

If the task is prolonged, or there is a requirement to carry heavy loads, other more specialised equipment and training must be identified in a risk assessment and made available by the employer.

Using Ladders Safely Guide and Checklist

Three rules should be considered before any work at height begins, which are:

Pre-use Ladder Check List

If we identify a task that involves using a ladder, it must be checked:

Ladder Safety Checklist

If a ladder is found to be defective, worn or unsafe, do not use it. Take it out of general use and place a warning sign on it and report it to your manager or employer. Never try to repair a ladder yourself.

Who Could Carry Out The Work?

To carry out any work using a ladder, the user must be:

Using a Leaning Ladder Safely - Checklist

When using leaning ladders, you should remember the following:

Using a Stepladder Safely

Most of us will use a stepladder at some time. Remember, you must:

Always ensure the position of the leaning ladder or stepladder is safe from vehicles, doors, windows etc. and not in the way of the public.

Note: Always ensure you undertake the appropriate training needed to meet the Work at Height Regulations and to minimise any risk of injury. If unsure, check with your employer.

Further Resources

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