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KU-EHS March Safety Tip, Week 2: Stepladder Safety

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March is National Ladder Safety Awareness Month


What is National Ladder Safety Month?

National Ladder Safety Month is the only movement dedicated exclusively to the promotion of ladder safety, at home and at work. During March 2017, National Ladder Safety Month will bring heightened awareness to the importance of the safe use of ladders through resources, training and a national dialogue. KU-EHS is participating in this event and will be releasing weekly ladder safety tips. This week, we are releasing two documents from the American Ladder Institute (ALI), Basic Ladder Safety and the ALI Ladder Safety Checklist.

This week, we are highlighting OSHA's Fact Sheet: Safe Use of Stepladders.


Safe Use of Stepladders

Workers who use ladders in construction risk permanent injury or death from falls and electrocutions. These hazards can be eliminated or substantially reduced by following good safety practices. This fact sheet examines some of the hazards workers may encounter while working on stepladders and explains what employers and workers can do to reduce injuries. OSHA’s requirements for stepladders are in Subpart X—Stairways and Ladders of OSHA’s Construction standards.

What is a Stepladder?

A stepladder is a portable, self-supporting, A-frame ladder. It has two front side rails and two rear side rails. Generally, there are steps mounted between the front side rails and bracing between the rear side rails. (See Figure 1, below.)

 Figure 1: Stepladder


PLAN Ahead to Get the Job Done Safely.

A competent person must visually inspect stepladders for visible defects on a periodic basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use. Defects include, but are not limited to:

  • Structural damage, split/bent side rails, broken or missing rungs/steps/cleats and missing or damaged safety devices.
  • Grease, dirt or other contaminants that could cause slips or falls.
  • Paint or stickers (except warning or safety labels) that could hide possible defects.


PROVIDE the Right Stepladder for the Job with the Proper Load Capacity.

  • Use a ladder that can sustain at least four times the maximum intended load, except that each extra-heavy duty type 1A metal or plastic ladder shall sustain at least 3.3 times the maximum intended load. Also acceptable are ladders that meet the requirements set forth in Appendix A of Subpart X. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and labels on the ladder. To determine the correct ladder, consider your weight plus the weight of your load. Do not exceed the load rating and always include the weight of all tools, materials and equipment.



TRAIN Workers to Use Stepladders Safely.

Employers must train each worker to recognize and minimize ladder-related hazards.



Common Stepladder Hazards

  • Damaged stepladder
  • Ladders on slippery or unstable surface
  • Unlocked ladder spreaders
  • Standing on the top step or top cap
  • Loading ladder beyond rated load
  • Ladders in high-traffic location
  • Reaching outside ladder side rails
  • Ladders in close proximity to electrical wiring/equipment


Safe Stepladder Use—DO:

Read and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions and labels on the ladder.

  • Look for overhead power lines before handling or climbing a ladder.
  • Maintain a 3-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) when climbing/descending a ladder.
  • Stay near the middle of the ladder and face the ladder while climbing up/down.
  • Use a barricade to keep traffic away from the ladder.
  • Keep ladders free of any slippery materials.
  • Only put ladders on a stable and level surface that is not slippery.


Safe Stepladder Use—DO NOT:

  • Use ladders for a purpose other than that for which they were designed. For example, do not use a folded stepladder as a single ladder.
  • Use a stepladder with spreaders unlocked.
  • Use the top step or cap as a step.
  • Place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases.
  • Move or shift a ladder with a person or equipment on the ladder.
  • Use cross bracing on the rear of stepladders for climbing.
  • Paint a ladder with opaque coatings.
  • Use a damaged ladder.
  • Leave tools/materials/equipment on stepladder.
  • Use a stepladder horizontally like a platform.
  • Use a metal stepladder near power lines or electrical equipment.

More Ladder Safety Training is available on EHS Blackboard site.

Courses available: Ladder Safety 101, Stepladder Safety, Single and Extension Ladder Safety, Mobile Ladder Safety and Articulated Ladder Safety.

Download OSHA Stepladder Fact Sheet

Week 1: Basic Ladder Safety

Report A Safety Concern

Report a concern to KU-EHS

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