Ladder Safety DOs and DON’Ts

To prevent workers from being injured due to falls from various types of ladders, including extension ladders and stepladders, employers are encouraged to adopt the following practices:

Safe Extension Ladder Use—DO:

  • Maintain a 3-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) when climbing/descending a ladder.
  • Face the ladder when climbing or descending.
  • Keep the body inside the side rails.
  • Use extra care when getting on or off the ladder at the top or bottom.
  • Avoid tipping the ladder over sideways or causing the ladder base to slide out.
  • Carry tools in a tool belt or raise tools up using a hand line.  Never carry tools in your hands while climbing up/down a ladder.
  • Extend the top of the ladder three feet above the landing.
  • Keep ladders free of any slippery materials.

Safe Extension Ladder Use—DON’T:

  • Place a ladder on boxes, barrels, or unstable bases.
  • Use a ladder on soft ground or unstable footing.
  • Exceed the ladder’s maximum load rating.
  • Tie two ladders together to make them longer.
  • Ignore nearby overhead power lines.
  • Move or shift a ladder with a person or equipment on the ladder.
  • Lean out beyond the ladder’s side rails.
  • Use an extension ladder horizontally like a platform.

Safe Stepladder Use—DO:

  • Read and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions and labels on the stepladder.
  • 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—DON’T:

  • Use stepladders for a purpose other than that for which they were designed.
  • 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.

For more information, see the OSHA Safe Use of Extension Ladders – Fact Sheet or the OSHA Safe Use of Stepladders – Fact Sheet.

About the OSHA Training Center

The OSHA Training Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District offers high quality Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards-based training for construction, maritime and general industry at its Center in Dublin, California, as well as locations throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam. Programs offered include OSHA safety standards, Outreach Trainer courses, Cal/OSHA standards curriculum, environmental courses and customized onsite safety training.

Upcoming courses include OSHA 510 – OSHA Standards for the Construction Industry, which covers Federal OSHA policies, procedures, and the application of OSHA standards to hazards in the construction industry, including ladders.

For more information and a complete course schedule, visit the OSHA Training Center website or call (866) 936-OSHA (6742).


  1. These are all great advice concerning ladder safety! we can never be too cautious when dealing with ladders! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Don’t forget to remember to consider the pro’s and con’s of the different ladder materials: Wood, Fiberglass, Aluminum, and Plastic.

    Some outfits ban certain materials, specifically aluminum, due to its electrical conductivity. Others ban wood ladders because of the likelihood of splintering and its porous surface.

    Great list! Thank you!

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