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10 Jun 2024

leaning ladder against a wall

To ensure your safety and the safety of others, be sure to perform these quick ladder checks before each use.


1. Stiles

The stiles are the two upright sides connected by the ladder’s rungs. Before using a ladder, always make sure that the stiles are not damaged. Ladders with bent or broken stiles could buckle or collapse.


2. Rungs

Rungs have the same function as steps or treads on step ladders, only they are half as deep. When inspecting your single section ladder or extension ladder, check for any loose, damaged or missing rungs.

Working on a ladder with broken rungs could result in a serious fall.


3. Base

Straight ladders and extension ladders feature an anti-slip safety base/foot, which is the part of the ladder that touches the ground. This section is very important in keeping you and the ladder stable while in use.

If the foot of your ladder is worn, damaged or very dirty, this could cause the ladder to slip.

Be wary when moving from soft ground to hard ground, too. Make sure the ladder is fully in contact with the floor and that there’s no mud or debris in the way.


4. Locking mechanisms

If you’re using a ladder with two or more sections, always ensure that all locking mechanisms are fully engaged before use.

You must also check that the components or fixings are in working order – look out for signs of wear or damage. Using a ladder with faulty locking mechanisms could collapse with you on it resulting in a fall.


5. Cleanliness

A clean ladder is much easier to inspect for damage or defects that could compromise its safety. For instance, a ladder covered in dirt or paint could obscure cracks and other signs of damage.

Dirt or grease could also impact the ladder’s grip and stability, putting your safety at risk.


According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), these checks must be conducted by the person using the ladder. You must inspect it at the beginning of the working day and after something has changed, such as moving it from dirty ground to clean ground.

If you spot any signs of damage while checking your ladder, don’t use it – instead, buy a new ladder that’s safe to use.

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For step ladders, check out our Step Ladder Inspection Checklist