Ladders and steps

Working on ladders can be dangerous. It is important to choose the correct ladders for the task at hand.

It is advisable to promote that employees and volunteers have someone with them supporting and steadying ladders whilst they are in use and you should ensure that anyone who uses ladders is trained in the safe use and appropriate selection of ladder for the task.

See the section on work at height for the basic principles of assessing, preventing and reducing the risks.

before you, or one of your employees uses a ladder, set of steps, or even a chair to perform a task for you. Is this the right equipment for the job?

Common causes of falls include:

  • over reaching;
  • the user slips;
  • the ladder slips; or
  • the ladder breaks.

All ladders and steps should be properly maintained and regularly checked for defects. If any problems are identified, then that ladder should be taken out of use immediately.

During a routine inspection of ladders you should look for:

  • twisted, bent or dented stiles;
  • cracked, worn, bent or loose rungs;
  • missing or damaged tie rods; and
  • cracked or damaged welded joints, loose rivets or damaged stays.

Important note
Train employees and volunteers in the safe use of ladders

You will also need to consider The Work at Height Regulations for any such work being undertaken. If you are an employer or you control work at height (for example building owners who may contract others to work at height) the Regulations apply to you.

For more information look at the HSE guidance on working at height.

See the HSE's guidance notes on the safe use of ladders and stepladders.