Safe & Sound

ladder safety: inspecting ladders

Inspect ladders carefully. Inspect all ladders before each use, and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use, including dropping the ladder or if it falls.  Defective and/or damaged ladders must be immediately marked in a manner that readily identifies them as defective/damaged, or be tagged with a “Do Not Use” or similar language tag. Defective and/or damaged ladders must not be used and must be removed from service until repaired.

Inspect all ladder components for signs of wear, corrosion and structural failure before each use. These inspections should include:

  • Rungs: Check for broken, split, cracked, corroded or missing rungs.
  • Side rails: Check for broken, split, cracked, corroded or missing side rails.
  • Cracks: Check carefully for cracks; they are hard to see. Cracks weaken ladders.
  • Excessive bends: Check for rungs or side rails with excessive bends. Bent areas are greatly weakened and may fail during use.
  • Hardware: Check for ladders with loose, corroded or weakened fasteners and hardware.
  • Feet: Check ladders for missing or damaged feet. Ladder feet may have both non-skid pads for use on hard surfaces (concrete) and metal feet for soft surfaces (dirt).
  • Coatings or paint: Check for paint or other coating hiding defects. Ladders must not be painted or coated with any opaque covering, except for identification or warning labels, which may be placed on one face only of a side rail. When ladders are painted, it becomes difficult for the user to observe defects/damage such as cracks or dents and painted areas must be inspected carefully for hidden damage.
  • Slipping hazards: Inspect ladders for oil, grease, moisture or other slippery materials before use and clean as necessary.
  • Capacity: Check the capacity label and make sure the ladder has sufficient capacity to hold you and everything you are wearing/carrying.

March is National Ladder Safety Month