Ontivity Resources


New Braunfels, TX, January 31, 2024


You may look at a ladder as being a very simple and harmless piece of equipment, but don’t be fooled, falls from ladders are right at the top of the list for causing serious injuries and fatalities in the construction industry.  According to the World Health Organization, falls from ladders result in more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. each year. When you combine those stats with an additional 160,000 ladder injuries at home, the United States leads the world in ladder injuries and deaths.  Even more shocking is that most ladder deaths are from falls of 10 feet or less. That means even when you’re using a simple stepladder on the job site or in your backyard, proper ladder safety is pertinent.  There are many areas we could cover when it comes to ladder safety, and we could fill up the next 5 or 6 calls with that information. 

Today we will focus on 3 basic points to prevent you from becoming a statistic when it comes to ladder safety.



It may seem easier to you to use the same ladder for every job but make no mistake–not all ladders are created equal. You should always make sure that the ladder you are using, whether a step ladder, a-frame ladder, or extension ladder, is the right one for the job that you are doing.  When choosing a ladder make sure to select the correct style of ladder needed for your tasks.  Never use an A-frame ladder like an extension ladder.  Make you’re your ladder is tall enough to prevent you from having to stand on the top two rungs of a portable ladder orthe top 4 of an extension ladder.  Remember that extension ladders must extend at least 3 feet beyond their landing point.  These 3 feet help you transition from the ladder to your work area. The material your ladder is made of is also critical.  As per the Ontivtity safety manual ladders shall be ANSI Type1A and constructed of fiberglass.  Type 1A ladders have a weight capacity of 300 pounds and we should never exceed that.  When determining weight consider body weight, PPE, and tools.  Most of the ladders we use are rated for 1 person only.  If you are in a situation that requires two people, chances are you will need two ladders. Taking the time to select and procure the right ladder can be the difference in a job well done and spending a few days in the hospital, so choose wisely. 


Before you step one foot on a ladder you must inspect it to make sure it is safe to use.  If you are unsure if someone else inspected it, take the few extra few minutes to do it yourself.  Start by looking for the most obvious items like broken or missing rungs, cracked siderails, damaged feet, and corrosion.  Cracks can be hard to see, especially with fiberglass ladders so take your time and look closely.  Spreaders, locks, & metal parts should not be loose, faulty, or in questionable condition.  Ropes for extension ladders should be in good shape with no frays, cuts, or knots. Pulleys should move freely and not bind on the rope.  Now we want to focus on labels.  All labels should be legible and fully intact.  Ladders with damaged or missing labels should not be used until they are replaced.  You want to also look for damage that could snag clothes or tool pouches that could cause you to lose balance or fall off the ladder.  This type of damage can also cause lacerations.  Steps or rungs should not be missing, loose, bent, corroded, or have substances that can cause you to slip. The ladder’s feet should work properly, and slip-resistant pads correctly attached.  If after inspection, a ladder is determined to be unsafe or non-conforming, the ladder must be removed from service immediately.  The ladder should be immediately red tagged with “Do Not Use” and marked in a manner that readily identifies it as defective and not safe for use.  Never ever try to perform field repairs on a ladder, it just isn’t worth it.


The proper setup of ladders is just as critical as our other two points today.  Proper setup is a crucial step in preventing workplace accidents.  The most basic guidance is to ensure the ladder is positioned on firm and level ground.  Be sure to place the ladder so you always face your work area or transition point.  Never position ladders on moveable objects, elevated work platforms or other objects in an effort to obtain additional height.  Using the bed of a truck, pallets, or setting up a ladder inside an aerial lift basket to gain additional height are an indication you have the wrong ladder, and these practices should never happen in our workplace. Setup your ladder to prevent overreaching – ensure your navel stays within the rails.  Ensure the ladder stays away from overhead conductors and power lines. Extension ladders must be positioned so that it is leaning against a vertical surface of support. They must be positioned at an angle of a 4:1 ratio.  This means four every 4 feet you climb up a ladder, you should move the ladder 1 foot away from the wall or vertical surface on which it’s placed.  Lastly, secure your ladder to prevent accidental tipping during use. Even the shortest duration of risky setup can have an outcome no one on this call wants.

In closing our call today, I just want to cover a couple other items to remember when using a ladder. Remember to always maintain 3 points of contact when climbing up and down. If necessary, wear at tool belt or use a pouch to carry small items. Lastly, always follow the manufacturer operating requirements anytime you are required to use a ladder for your assigned work duties.

If you would like more information on this topic or any other safety-related topic, please reach out to the Ontivity safety team at safety@ontivity.com, and we will get you taken care of. 

1820 Watson Lane East, New Braunfels, Texas 78130, United States

(830) 302-2330

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