Ladder Safety

Every year, many workers in Washington State are seriously injured from falling off ladders in their workplace. These injuries include dislocated limbs, broken bones, head injuries and even death from their injuries.

These accidents occur because:

  • The ladder moves, falls over, or is set up improperly.
  • The worker slips on the rungs, overreaches, or carries objects while climbing.
  • The worker stands on the top step of the ladder.
  • The ladder being used in not in good condition.


Before beginning any work involving a ladder:

  • Look for missing or loose cleats at the bottom.
  • Look for loose or missing screws, bolts or nails on job made ladders
  • Look for cracked, broken, split, dented or badly worn rungs, cleats or side rails.
  • Splinters on wood ladders, or corrosion on metal ladders.

Ladder Use

  • Always use the right ladder for the task.
  • Keep the area at the top and bottom of the ladder clear of tool cords,  tools material and garbage.
  • Always set the ladder on solid footing.
  • Use a twenty-five percent (25%) angle on the slope of an extension ladder.
  • When using extension ladders, the ladder must be 36” (3 feet) above the landing.
  • Always secure the top of an extension ladder to prevent it from sliding.
  • Don’t lean to the side when on a ladder.
  • Do not carry tools or materials on a ladder.  Use a hand line to raise or lower tools, equipment or materials.
  • Always face the ladder.
  • Use 3 point contact when climbing a ladder.
  • Only one person on a ladder at a time.
  • Never lean a stepladder; always fully open a stepladder.

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • What is the most common ladder safety issue you see in your workplace?
  • Why is it important to inspect the ladder prior to each use?
  • Why is it important to extend a non self supporting ladder beyond the point of contact?