Preventing Ladder Falls

Hazards include:

Ladder falls can result in serious injury or even death.

Smart Safety Rules:

  • Always face the ladder when climbing or descending.
  • When using a job made ladder, ensure that the rungs are equally spaced and there are no sharp edges or nails jutting out that might catch on clothing or cause injury.
  • Position ladders that are designed to lean against a wall or other support so that the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is approximately ¼ the working length of the ladder.
  • Keep the area around the top and bottom of the ladder clear.
  • Do not carry loads up and down the ladder with you, as this increases your chance for losing your balance and falling.


  • Safely position ladders each time they are used.
  • Ensure ladders do not slip from their supports and are securely positioned.
  • Know how much weight your ladder is designed to support.
  • Use ladders that are compliant with OSHA standards.
  • Inspect ladders prior to use to ensure there are no damages or cracks.
  • Position ladders so the side rails extend at least three feet beyond the top surface.
  • Keep at least three points of your body in contact with the ladder at all times when climbing (e.g., two feet and one hand).


  • Reach outside the ladder side rails. Prevent loss of balance by moving the ladder so you do not have to reach.
  • Put ladders on unstable or slippery surfaces.
  • Move or adjust a ladder while a person or equipment is on it.
  • Stand on the top cap of a stepladder.
  • Set up ladders in busy or high traffic areas.

Discussion Questions:

  • What factors should you include when considering a ladder’s maximum intended load?
  • Why should ladders be set up in low traffic areas?
  • Why should you face the ladder when climbing or descending?
  • How often should ladders be inspected for damage or defects?