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Ladder Safety – An overview of all aspects in ladder usage.


A ladder is a tool like any other. If it is used properly and according to safety guidelines, it will give many years of trouble-free service. However, if proper cautions are not taken ladders can commonly be involved in accidents. Please read, recognize and follow all instructions and methods in this Absolute Painting ladder safety publication. Regular checks that Absolute Painting personnel have a full knowledge of working with ladders will be observed with questionnaires and on-site visits. 

Two major factors that deserve particular attention are proper ladder selection and electrical shock precautions.

Pay close attention to the Duty Rating of the ladder and the combined weight of the user and materials. Select a ladder with the proper capacity. Also, be sure to select a ladder of proper height to reach the work area without overextending.

Always be aware of wires, electrical devices and live electrical circuits. Metal ladders conduct electricity and can create a danger of electrocution. Failure to read and follow instructions regarding electrical safety could result in serious personal injury or death.

General Precautions Before Each Use of a Ladder
  1. Read the instructions printed on the ladder and follow them. Ladders are designed for one person. Exceptions are Double Front Step Ladders, which may be used by two people, one on each side. Duty Ratings still apply for each side and should be carefully observed.

  2. Never leave a ladder set up and unattended. Special care should be taken to keep            children away from all ladders.

  3.  If you anticipate the use of chemicals or other possibly corrosive materials, the ladder manufacturer should be consulted before use.

  4. If you are in poor health, subject to fainting spells, have a physical handicap that would   impair your climbing ability, or if you are under the influence of any drug or alcohol (including legal drugs that may cause drowsiness), you should not use a ladder.

  5. Do not use in high winds or during a storm.

  6. Stay focused on safety whenever you are on the ladder, and keep your body weight between the rails.

  7. Always check for power and telephone wires before erecting your ladder.



Ladder safety: care & usage.


Ladder Inspection Before Each Use


Inspect the ladder before each use. Never climb a damaged, bent or broken ladder: all working parts must be in good working order.

Portable ladders with structural defects—such as broken or missing rungs, cleats or steps, broken or split rails, corroded components or other faulty or defective components—must immediately be marked defective or tagged with "Do Not Use" or similar language and withdrawn from service until repaired.


Fixed ladders with structural defects—such as broken or missing rungs, cleats or steps, broken or split rails or corroded components— must be withdrawn from service until repaired. Ladder repairs must restore the ladder to a condition meeting its original design criteria before the ladder is returned to use.


Defective fixed ladders are considered withdrawn from use when they are immediately tagged with "Do Not Use" or similar language, or marked in a manner that identifies them as defective, or blocked—such as with a plywood attachment that spans several rungs.

Make sure all rivets and joints, nuts and bolts are tight; feet, steps and rungs are secure; spreaders and pail shelf function properly (on step ladders); and rung locks, rope and pulley are in good condition (on extension ladders).

Keep ladder clean, free from grease, oil, mud, snow, wet paint and other slippery material. Keep your shoes clean. Leather soled footwear should not be used. Never make temporary repairs of damaged or missing parts.


The following rules apply to all ladders and must be adhered to at all times.


■ Maintain ladders free of oil, grease and other slipping hazards.

■ Never climb from one ladder to another.

■ Do not load ladders beyond their maximum intended load nor beyond their manufacturer’s rated capacity.

■ Use ladders only for their designed purpose.

■ Use ladders only on stable and level surfaces unless secured to prevent accidental movement.

■ Do not use ladders on slippery surfaces unless secured or provided with slip-resistant feet to prevent accidental movement. Do not use slip resistant feet as a substitute for exercising care when placing, lashing or holding a ladder upon slippery surfaces.

■ Secure ladders placed in areas such as passageways, doorways or driveways, or where they can be displaced by workplace activities or traffic to prevent accidental movement. Use a barricade and signs to keep traffic or activity away from the ladder.

■ Keep areas clear around the top and bottom of ladders.

■ Face the ladder when moving up or down.

■ Use at least one hand to grasp the ladder when climbing. Maintain a firm grip.

■ Do not carry objects or loads that could cause loss of balance and falling.

■ Keep ladder close to your work; avoid pushing or pulling off to the side of ladders.

■ Ladders are meant for one person. Do not use as a brace, platform or plank.

■ Do not stand, climb or sit on ladder top, pail shelf, braces, or back section.

■ Do not move, shift or extend ladders while in use.

■ Do not "walk" or "jog" ladder when standing on it.

■ Do not overreach; move ladder when needed.

■ Never climb from one ladder to another.

■ DANGER! Metal Conducts Electricity!  Aluminum ladders especially. Importantly, do not let ladders made of any material come in contact with live electrical wires.

■ Use ladders equipped with non conductive side rails if the worker or the ladder could contact exposed energized electrical equipment.



Proper Care & Storage of Ladders

Store ladders in a safe, dry place.

Hang ladders on racks, at intervals of 6 feet for support.

Properly secure and support ladders while in transit. When a ladder is being transported by a vehicle and it sticks out beyond the front or rear of the vehicle by one metre or more, it must be flagged on the end (if transporting at night it must have a light visible from at least 50 feet).

Keep ladders clean and free of foreign materials.

Never store materials on ladders. Keep ladders free of oil, grease and other slipping hazards. Do not store ladders outside without adequate cover. Weather conditions will quickly affect the condition of the ladder.

Loads overhanging the vehicle or trailer


Warning devices


If the load (including equipment used to support or retain the load) extends more than 200mm beyond the sides of the vehicle or trailer, or more than one metre beyond the front or back of the vehicle, then you must attach suitable warning device(s) to it.

During daylight you must attach:

  • flags (coloured white or fluorescent red, orange or yellow, at least 400mm long by 300mm wide)


  • standard hazard warning panels (coloured yellow/green with an orange stripe, at least 400mm long by 300mm wide).


Hazard warning panels can be used instead of flags


During the hours of darkness, you must have lights on the load positioned at the rear and facing towards the rear, coloured red (if the load extends sideways or to the rear)


Lights at the front and facing towards the front should be coloured white or amber (if the load extends sideways or forwards). During the hours of darkness, the lights must be clearly visible in clear weather at a distance of at least 200 metres.


If the overall width of the projecting load is one metre or less, then place one flag or panel or light at the centre of the load. If the load is wider than one metre, then place a flag or panel or light at each corner of the projecting load.

Note: If your load covers up essential lights on your vehicle or trailer, you must fit temporary lights to your load to make sure you comply with legal requirements. A vehicle lighting retailer or garage can advise you on purchasing and fitting temporary lights to your load.

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