... when is it safe to use one? And how should it be used?

Before use

Before using a stepladder, check that you are fit to be working at height. Then check both the condition and the position of the ladder.

A stepladder in good condition has:

  • Feet firmly attached
  • Clean treads
  • Secure locking devices
  • Secure fastenings when it is extended

A stepladder in a good position:

  • Is fully open
  • Is locked into place
  • Will not move at the bottom.
  • Stands on a surface that is:
    • firm
    • level
    • clear
    • dry
    • not slippery

In use

  • Only work on a stepladder for a maximum of 15 - 30 minutes at a time
  • Only carry light materials and tools (up to 10 kg)
  • Do not overreach
  • Keep both feet on the same rung or step throughout the task
  • Make sure you have a safe handhold available on the steps
  • Avoid side-on working

Is a ladder right for the job?

If you are not sure that it is right to use a ladder speak to your supervisor or your OHS representative.

Further reading

  • Information and more links on the Ladders FAQ. 
  • A Guidance Note from WorkSafe Victoria: Selection and Safe Use of Portable Ladders [currently not available!]
  • From the UK's HSE:
    • Safe use of ladders and stepladders This brief guidance helps employers, the self-employed and people who work from ladders know when to use a ladder; decide how select the right sort of ladder for the job; understand how to use it; know how to look after it and take sensible safety precautions. A free copy can be downloaded.
    • Using Stepladders Safely - shows what to look for when checking the safety of stepladders.
  • From Worksafe NZ a Fact sheet - Safe Working With Ladders and Stepladders [pdf]
  • From Canada CCOHS What should you do when using a stepladder.

Some of this information is from the UK's HSE website.

Last amended February 2019


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