Ladder Safety on the Job

Falls happen when you lose your balance. Standing on makeshift supports and using ladders incorrectly can cause you to fall. Using the wrong equipment for a task can also increase your chances of being hurt.

Watch for hazards

  • Makeshift supports. Makeshift supports are never quite right for the job. And they're not safe. For instance, don't stand on top of a trash can or chair instead of a stepstool or ladder. This raises your risk of falling and hurting yourself. Never make a short ladder taller by putting something under the legs. And be careful not to overreach. This can shift your center of gravity and make you lose your balance.

  • Incorrect use of ladders. Using equipment incorrectly is a common fall hazard. If you set a ladder too close or too far from a building, you're more likely to fall off of it. Other causes of falls include setting the ladder on loose, uneven ground. Or using a tall ladder by yourself without securing it. And never stand on the top of a stepladder or use an extension ladder that's too short.

Use the right equipment and use it right

  • Find out what you need ahead of time.

  • Follow safety warnings on equipment.

  • Keep yourself centered over your support so you're less likely to lose your balance.

  • Keep your arms and legs as close to your center of gravity as possible (don't overreach).

Follow ladder safety rules

  • Inspect the ladder before using it.

  • Use the 1 to 4 rule. The base of the ladder needs to be placed 1 foot out from its support for every 4 feet of ladder length.

  • Set and secure the ladder on stable ground.

  • Have someone hold the base of the ladder.

  • Never use the top rung.

Man standing on ladder leaning against wall. Second man on ground holding ladder steady.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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