Before using any kind of ladder, it’s important to make sure the ladder is safe to use. To avoid putting your health and safety at risk, you should only use ladders that are completely free of damage and defects.
If you use a ladder for work, you should conduct a quick visual check before each use. You should also carry out a more thorough inspection approximately 2 to 4 times a year (depending on how often you use the ladder).
Detailed visual inspections are the responsibility of the employer, and a record of each inspection should be kept for future reference.
Ladder Inspection Checklist
The Health and Safety Executive has a thorough checklist of things to include in a ladder safety inspection.
• Stiles: Make sure the stiles (also known as the side rails) are not bent or damaged in any way, or else the ladder could collapse beneath you.
• Feet: Check to see if they are missing, worn, or damaged. Make sure the anti-slip surfaces are also undamaged. If so, the ladder could slip as you use it.
• Rungs: Are they bent? Worn? Missing? Loose? If so, you could fall while using the ladder.
• Locking mechanism: For extension ladders, check to make sure the locking mechanism is in good condition. If it isn’t, the fly section may collapse, bringing you and the rest of the ladder with it. You should also ensure any locking bars can be fully engaged for maximum safety while using the ladder.
• Pulley ropes: Are they frayed or worn in any way? If so, they could snap and cause the ladder to collapse.
• Fixings: Make sure they’re all tight, in place, and show no signs of severe corrosion or wear.
• Labels: Any labels on the ladder should be securely attached and legible to a layman.
• Ladder stay: If you use a ladder stay, make sure it isn’t corroded, worn, buckled, or warped, otherwise it may not be able to keep the ladder standing against the surface you’re working on.
• Cleanliness: Make sure the ladder is as clean as it can be, and that there is no paint on the ladder that might be covering any of the above defects.
If you spot any of the above defects, you should not use the ladder. You should instead tell the person in charge, and you may need to replace the ladder.
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