Working at height often requires the use of ladders and step ladders. Make sure you’re using them safely in the workplace by following the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines.
Tips on Ladder Safety in the Workplace
Below are some key things to remember when using ladders in the workplace:
- Assess the surrounding area. Assess the environment you will be working in for any possible risks. Is the surface level? Will you be working near a door or something else that may move unexpectedly? Make sure the surrounding area is safe and free of any hazards.
- Maintain 3 points of contact at all times. When working on a ladder, for your safety, you must keep 3 body parts in contact with the ladder at any time. This can look like two feet and one hand or two feet and your chest (if you’re using a leaning ladder), for example.
- Follow the '1 in 4’ rule. When working on a leaning ladder, you must ensure that for every 4 metres up, the ladder should be 1 metre out from the surface it’s leaning against. See What Is the ‘1 in 4’ Rule? for more information.
- Check the ladder’s condition. Always check the ladder or step ladder is in perfect condition before use. Look out for any dents, rust, cracks etc.
- Secure the ladder. Appropriately secure your ladder before beginning any work. This will help to prevent a slip or fall. How you secure your ladder will depend on the type of ladder you’re using and the job you’re using it for.
How to Identify an Unsafe Ladder
Before using a ladder at work, you must carry out safety checks on the following parts of a ladder:
- Rungs – Loose, bent, worn or missing rungs make a ladder unsafe.
- Steps or treads – Loose, dirty or missing steps / treads put you at risk of falling.
- Feet – Dirty, damaged or missing feet make a ladder unsafe.
- Locking mechanisms – If the ladder features any locking mechanisms, these must all be working properly before use. If any are bent, damaged or not fully engaged, the ladder is unsafe and could collapse.
- Stiles – Bent or damaged stiles may collapse, making the ladder unsafe.
- Platforms – Stepladder platforms could become buckled or split, making the ladder unstable.
Make sure you carry out these checks before every job. Do not attempt to use a ladder if one or more of these checks fail.
READ MORE: Ladder Risk Assessments
When Should You Use a Ladder in the Workplace?
Ladders should only be used to work at height if they can be used safely. A risk assessment must also show that the work does not require any additional fall protection.
For jobs that would require you to work up a ladder for longer than 30 minutes at a time, alternative equipment must be used instead. We recommend using a work platform or scaffold tower for longer jobs.
Stay up to date with our ladder safety blog for more advice on ladder safety. If you require any assistance when purchasing ladders, contact the Ladders UK Direct team today.