National Ladder Safety Month 2023: Safety Tips for Before and During Your Climb

Ladders are an incredibly useful tool, but it’s essential that workers know how to use them properly.

Earlier this month, we addressed factors to consider when selecting the right ladder for the job. Now, we’ll cover how to safely use it.

Before the Climb

Before you start your journey up the ladder, there are a few steps you need to take. They might not take long, but they could mean the difference between working safely and ending up with an injury.

Perform an inspection. Examine the ladder to make sure everything works and no parts are broken. The American Ladder Institute (ALI) recommends checking “locks and spreader braces, steps and rungs, rails, connections and fasteners, safety shoes and ropes and pulleys.” If any of these are damaged, pull the ladder from use. It’s also a good idea to read any labels on the ladder.

Check the surroundings. Before you set the ladder up, ensure that the ground is level and stable enough to support the ladder and you. Check for nearby objects, like unlocked doors or windows, that could hit the ladder, causing it and you to fall. Another factor to consider, per ALI, is the weather. If conditions make it unsafe to use a ladder, wait until the weather is ideal.

Check-in with yourself. Do you feel physically well enough to climb? If you don’t, consider waiting until you feel better. Are your shoes clean? Make sure there’s nothing stuck to the bottom that could cause you to slip.

The Climb

You’ve got your ladder. You’ve done the necessary inspections. Now, it’s time to climb.

Face forward and move slowly. Don’t climb up the ladder backward or with one side of your body. You should be facing the ladder with every step you take. It’s also not a race to get to the top. Take your time and pay attention as you climb.

Follow the three-point-of-contact rule. As you climb, ensure that two hands and one foot or two feet and one arm are always on the ladder. You should also never overreach. Overreaching is one of the two leading causes of ladder incidents, per ALI.

Stay centered and parallel. Use the center of your stomach to ensure you stay centered on the ladder. It should always be between the side rails, according to ALI. When climbing, don’t learn or shift your weight either.

Don’t carry tools. If you have tools you need to use, don’t carry them up the ladder with you. Put them in a tool belt or use a hand line to get them to the top.

Knowing how to use ladders safely can save lives.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

Industrial Hygiene Product Showcase

  • M-Power Defense System™ Impact 3 Glove

    M-Power Defense System™ Impact 3 Glove

    Sacrifice Nothing: Experience next level impact protection with the M-Power Defense System™ from Magid. Heavy-duty back-of-hand protection with a unique ventilated honeycomb design that offers extreme protection with 9 times more airflow and maximum flexibility. Try the unbeatable combination of lightweight Impact 3 protection and amplified grip! You can have it all. Try it FREE! 3

  • Combustible Dust Testing & Process Consulting

    Combustible Dust Testing & Process Consulting

    Industrial Hygiene hazards should include potential combustibility hazards. Our labs provide testing for combustible dust, vapor and chemical reaction hazards. Fauske & Associates uses testing data to solve process safety issues and mitigate potential accidents in the chemical and nuclear industries. Custom solutions include site assessments, testing, engineering, consulting and training. 3

  • Ventis® Pro5

    Ventis® Pro5

    The Ventis Pro5 is the most flexible connected gas monitor on the market, giving you the power to protect workers from up to five gases, manage worker safety from remote locations, and simplify team communication to take the guesswork out of gas detection. It automatically shares real-time gas readings, man-down, and panic alarms between peers – meaning the entire team knows who is in danger and why. By sharing real-time data, workers can also maintain continuous communication without the need for additional infrastructure or devices. Visit us at AIHce booth #927 to learn more! 3