Proper Use of Ladders

Agricultural Tailgate Safety Training


To be able to demonstrate the safe use ladders that are used primarily for construction and/or maintenance jobs.

Trainer's Note:

Read through the entire module prior to beginning the training session. Have ladders available to demonstrate the information about ladder safety.


Basic steps that should be taken before climbing a ladder

  • Consider the type of work to be done before choosing a ladder.
  • Be certain the ladder is able to carry the amount of weight that will be applied.
  • Make sure the ladder is placed on a firm level surface.
  • Check the condition of the ladder.
Inspection Checklist for Potential Hazards
Metal Ladders Wood Ladders Fiberglass Ladders
sharp edges splits loose components
dents cracks missing components
bent steps chips cracks
bent rungs or rails loose rungs or steps chips
no slip-resistant rubber or plastic feet    

Step Ladders
  • Be certain the spreader is locked before climbing on the ladder.
  • Never stand on the top or top step of a stepladder.
Extension and Straight Ladders
  • Raise the extension ladder to the desired height and lock both sides.
  • Never stand on the top three rungs of a straight or extension ladder.
  • Don't lean a ladder against a movable object.
  • Always face the ladder and hold onto the side rails with both hands, when going up or down the ladder.
Ladder Weight Classes
Industrial Heavy-duty with a load capacity of not more than 250 lbs.
Commercial Medium-duty with a load capacity of not more than 225 lbs. (Suited for painting.)
Household Light-duty with a load capacity of 200 lbs.

Proper Ladder Placement

The ladder should be placed so that its base is one foot away from what the ladder leans against for every four feet in height to the point where the ladder rests. This is referred to as the four-to-one rule. For example, if a 16 foot ladder leans against a wall, its base should be placed four feet from the wall.

  • Never use a ladder in a strong wind.
  • Never use a ladder in front of a door unless it is locked, blocked or guarded.
  • Inspect ladders for potential dangers before using.
  • Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder.
  • Never carry tools or materials in your hand when going up or down a ladder.
  • Only one person should be on a ladder at a time.
  • If one must work near power lines, always use a wooden or fiberglass ladder. NEVER work with a metal ladder around power lines.
Four-To-One Rule
For every four feet of rise the base of the ladder should be one foot away from the object that the top of the ladder is resting.

Review the Following Points
  • Chose the right ladder for the intended job.
  • Know the potential hazards when using a ladder.
  • Know the proper placement of ladders.
Proper Use of Ladders Quiz

True or False

1. Stand on the top three rungs of a straight or extension ladder.
2. The four-to-one rule should be applied when leaning a ladder against an object.
3. Keep the body centered between the rails of the ladder.
4. It is a good idea to use a ladder in windy conditions.
5. A wood ladder is safe to use if it has cracks and splits, as long as it doesn't have any missing rungs.

Answer Key
1. F, 2. T, 3. T, 4. F, 5. F

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