Using Ladders Safely

Working With Ladders Safely

The definition of ladders, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is as follows:  noun –  a structure for climbing up or down that consists essentially of two long sidepieces joined at intervals by crosspieces on which one may step; a series of steps or stages by which someone moves up to a higher or better position.

Many of us will be using ladders to do some chores around the house, like cleaning out the gutters, or painting.  Whatever we are doing around the house, or out on a construction site, we use ladders daily.

As I was doing some research for this article, I wanted to find out what the history regarding ladders.  Many of the websites I found all referenced the same information, which stated that ladders have been around for many years.  They help us to extend our ability to reach heights taller than ourselves.  Cave paintings found in Valencia, Spain that date back 10,000 years show a scene in which people are using a ladder to raid a honeybee nest for its sweet and delectable contents. The functional design of the ladder as it’s known in modern times can be traced to the ancient cultures of the Hebrews and Egyptians, who developed and refined it. The earliest ladders had a single vertical member with horizontal rungs on either side. Such ladders, though, could be quite unstable. Hence, the development of the ladder in the form we know today. This design is much more stable because it distributes weight evenly and doesn’t slip sideways as easily.

Different types of ladder – There are Fixed Ladders, Extension Ladders, and Step Ladders. These ladders can be made of aluminum, wood, metal, plastic or fiberglass. Fixed Ladders are attached to a structure and not adjustable in length. An Extension Ladder is a non-self-supporting, portable ladder that is adjustable in length. Then there are Step Ladders which are self-supporting portable ladders that are not adjustable in length. When selecting a ladder you should consider the capacity of the ladder, its height and footing requirements, and whether it will be used inside or outside.

Did you know that ladders have different ratings?  The information below was found on Keller Ladder’s website.



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Ladders can be made with either fiberglass, aluminum or wood.  Fiberglass type ladders are great when doing electrical work.  They are lighter weight, strong, and is the preferred ladder material.  Aluminum is very lightweight and corrosion resistant but is not a good choice if you are doing electrical work.  Wood is another great material that ladders are made from, but they can be very heavy, and may need more maintenance than other two materials.


General Safety Tips For Using A Ladder – Falls from ladders are one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries.  Here are some general safety tips for using a ladder:

  • Use the right ladder for the job.  Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines or power sources.  Look at the area where you will be using the ladder.  Look overhead for power lines before handling the ladder.
  • Never use the top step or run of a ladder as a step unless it was designed for that purpose.Ladders
  • Always maintain a 3-point contact on the ladder when climbing.  This means two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand.  This helps to keep the ladder stable.
  • Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface.
  • Do not place a ladder on debris, boxes, barrels or any unstable bases to obtain additional height.
  • Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
  • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface. ladders
  • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
  • Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the ladder’s load rating and of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment.
  • Never use a ladder that is damaged.


  • Avoid overreaching the ladder.  Keep yourself between the ladder’s side rails.  This will assist in keeping the ladder from tilting to the side or becoming unstable.


SCS Safety Health & Security Associates LLC works with businesses to help keep their employees safe, lower workers compensation and fleet / auto insurance policy premiums.  In addition, they help to get a company safety compliant by conducting job site safety inspections, developing written safety programs, and conducting safety meetings.   In addition, they offer OSHA 10 and 30 hr. courses, for the construction industry.  If your employees need CPR/AED, Basic First Aid, and or Bloodborne Pathogen certification, they can handle that too.  Check out their monthly CPR/AED and Basic First Aid Classes in the Leesburg VA area.

What is the benefit of having SCS Safety Health & Security Associates work with your company to increase safety?  We bring over 20 years of experience in safety.  We prefer to build a relationship with our clients, so that they come to us as a resource.  Hiring SCS Safety Health & Security Associates does not require the overhead, salary, or benefits that may be required with traditional employment.