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We all know that ladders, while necessary for some parts of work, can be dangerous. Here are some safety tips for use and setting up a ladder.

As we all know, ladders can be dangerous. At best they are awkward, potentially unstable, and ergonomically compromising. At worst they are a means to death or permanent disability.  People get hurt staying on a ladder when it shifted, getting off ladders, carrying ladders, and wearing inappropriate foot wear such as flip flops.

Any work above grade level increases the risk injury; the greater the elevation, the greater the danger.  It's no surprise that OSHA consistently lists ladders as one of their top safety violations each year. As a result, they have several requirements that are focused on ensuring employee safety while using temporary ladders:

Set Up

  • Set a straight ladder at a 75 degree angle to the object being scaled
  • Secure the ladder from moving or falling by doing at least one of the following (a combination of the first two is best)
    • Place or secure the feet in such a way that they cannot move or slip
    • Anchor or tie-off the top so that it cannot move or shift
    • Have someone hold the ladder so it cannot move
  • When accessing a roof or other elevated level, the top of the ladder must extend 3” beyond the point of support


  • Always face a ladder when ascending or descending
  • Never stand on the top step of a step ladder-even the short ones!
  • Ladder use should be limited to authorized individuals who have been trained in acquisition, handling, and use
  • Always use a ladder for above-grade access or work-NEVER use a substitute such as a chair or table
  • Get help moving an awkward or heavy ladder
  • When going up or down, keep one hand and one foot on the rungs at all times
  • Keep your body and any material you carry as close to the ladder as possible
  • When working from a ladder, keep your body centered on the ladder-do not lean or overreach
  • Always use every rung of the ladder when descending-never skip rungs or jump off a ladder

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