May 20, 2005  


ES&H Safety Tip: Using Ladders Safely

Ladders are commonly used across the Laboratory. But did you know that more than half a million people a year are treated for ladder-related injuries? Please keep safety, and these tips for safe ladder usage, in mind whenever you plan an action using a ladder. You might want to keep these points in mind with the ladders you have at home, too.

Ladders should be tilted at a 4:1 ratio, meaning that the base of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall or other vertical surface for every four feet of height to the point of support.
(Image courtesy of OSHA)

• Both single and extension ladders should be equipped with nonskid safety feet and should be placed on a firm, level surface. The distance from the ladder’s base to the wall should equal one-fourth the distance from the base to the point of support.

• Never set ladders on boxes or other objects to make the ladder reach higher areas.

• Lock or barricade any doors that may open toward ladders.

• Approximately three feet of a straight ladder should extend above the topmost spot to be reached.

• Never stand above the third rung from the top of a straight ladder or above the second highest step of a stepladder.

• Never use stepladders as straight ladders. Open stepladders fully and make sure that the spreader is locked securely.

• Only one person should be on a ladder at a time and should always face the ladder when going up or down.

• While on a straight ladder, hold on with one hand and do not overreach. It is safer to climb down and move the ladder.

• If you use a metal ladder, make sure that it—or you—does not come into contact with electric wires or equipment.

• Never carry large objects while ascending or descending a ladder. To carry tools and accessories, use shoulder straps, bags or hand lines.

• Inspect all ladders before each use.

• Defective ladders should be tagged ’dangerous—do not use’ or destroyed and removed from service without delay.

• Ladder steps and rungs should be kept free from oil and other foreign matter.

• Ladders should not be painted because paint may conceal defects, labels or other markings.

For more information refer to the ES&H Manual, Chapter 15
or take Course 293, Stairway and Ladder Safety.

If you have any questions call the Safety Service Desk at Ext. 4554.  


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Tuesday May 24, 2005 by Topher White