When it comes to general safety, stairs pose significant hazards. Worldwide, the rates of deaths and injuries related to stairs are notably high. Additionally,  a substantial portion of fatal falls is attributed to stairs. If a ladder is being used for work, the risk of falling from the ladder should be assessed.  Proper ladder usage, thorough inspection before use, and avoiding damaged ladders are essential for reducing risks. When ladders are used for work, it is a legal requirement to ensure that they are suitable and safe for the job under work at height safety regulations and to conduct inspections in accordance with ladder inspection requirements. Using a faulty ladder can result not only in legal penalties but also in serious and fatal injuries.

In this article, we will discuss how to mitigate potential risks when using a ladder and address ladder inspection requirements to protect both workers and the business.

What are the Ladder Inspection Requirements?

Ladders should be regularly inspected to ensure they are in good condition and suitable for use. The inspection intervals for ladders may vary depending on factors such as how frequently they are used,  their durability,  and the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally,  portable ladders should be inspected every 6 months, while fixed ladders should be inspected annually. Each ladder may have different maintenance and inspection requirements depending on factors like material and brand.

How and When to Use a Ladder at Work?

Based on the results of risk assessments, ladders can be used for working at height when it is determined that using equipment that provides higher fall protection is not necessary. This decision is made because the risk is low,  the usage is short-term,  and it may also include unchangeable workplace features.

Short-term usage alone cannot be the primary factor in determining whether ladder use is reasonable; you should have conducted a risk assessment first. If the task requires you to be on the ladder for more than 30 minutes at a time, it is recommended to use alternative safety equipment.

Ladders should only be used when it is possible to use them safely. Additionally, knowing how to safely use a ladder is crucial.  You must be competent to use a ladder, and if you are receiving training, a competent person should supervise you during work.

The training on ladder use should cover topics such as how to assess the risks of using a ladder for a specific task, when using a ladder (or not) is the right choice, and how to use different types of ladders safely.

How to Check Your Ladder is Safe?

Before using a ladder,  the manufacturer’s instructions should be readily available because you may need to refer to them.

To ensure the ladder’s safe use,  a pre-use inspection should be carried out to identify any obvious visual defects.  This inspection should be conducted by the person using the ladder at the beginning of the workday or after any changes such as dropping the ladder or moving it to another area.

The following should be checked:

  • The stiles: Ensure they are not bent or damaged.
  • The feet: If they are missing, worn, or damaged,  the ladder may slip. Additionally,  check the ladder feet to make sure there is no dirt left on them when transitioning from a dirty surface like dug soil or loose sand to a clean,  solid surface.
  • The rungs: Bent, worn, missing, or loose rungs can cause the ladder to tip over.
  • Locking mechanism: Is the mechanism functioning properly? Are there any bent, worn,  or damaged components?
  • The stepladder platform: Cracks or bending can make the ladder unstable.
  • The steps: If they are dirty, they can become slippery,  and if the fastenings are loose,  they can collapse.

If any of these defects are identified, the ladder should not be used, and it should be reported immediately to the responsible person.

Why You Need Ladder Inspection Requirements?

The ladder inspection requirements are crucial due to the high number of accidents that occur when working at heights. Falls from heights are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury-related deaths worldwide. Statistics show that falls from heights make up more than 30% of all fatal injuries.  Among these,  falls from ladders also play a significant role. So,  why do we need ladder inspection requirements?

First and foremost,  we need these inspections to protect workers. Falls from heights are one of the primary causes of workplace injuries and even fatalities. Falls from ladders result in serious injuries and fatalities at a significant rate. Therefore,  conducting these inspections is essential to make ladders and ladder-related work safe for employees.

Additionally, these inspections are necessary to comply with laws and regulations. According to legal regulations, employers are required to assess risks in their workplaces and conduct ladder safety inspections. While laws may vary from one country to another, they all essentially require the same thing: The assessment of all necessary risks to keep employees and the workplace safe. The inspection of ladders, which are one of the leading causes of injuries due to falls from heights, is considered within this context.

What to Look for?

There are certain ladder inspection requirements that all workers must follow before using them:

  • Check the ladder steps.

Before starting to use a ladder,  visually inspect if there are any loose,  movable,  broken,  or missing steps.

  • Check the ladder side rails.

Check the ladder side rails for cracks,  damage,  or breakage,  ensuring they are in good condition.

  • Examine the feet of portable ladders.

All portable ladders should have rubber safety feet that grip the ground securely.

  • Inspect connection elements.

Bolt,  screw,  rivet,  etc. ,  connection elements should be in place and in good condition.

  • Remove or cover sharp edges.
  • Make sure the ladder is clean.

A dirty ladder can lead to slipping and falling,  so ensure there are no contaminants like oil,  dirt,  or grease on it.

  • Consult the ladder manufacturer for specific use.

If you  plan to use a ladder in a way it has not been used before,  always consult the manufacturer before using it.

Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin has been working as the General Coordinator at Ergin Makina since 2005.