Ladder Inspections - What's the Point?

Ladder Inspections - What's the Point?

Ladders are involved in 20% of fall injuries among workers and 81% of construction worker fall injuries.

OSHA requires that employers ensure ladders are inspected on a periodic basis. However, even with periodic inspections, it is still every worker's responsibility to be sure that the ladder they are about to use is in safe working order.

OSHA Construction Standard 1926.1053(b)(15) Ladders shall be inspected by a competent person for visible defects on a periodic basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use.

OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.27(f) All ladders shall be maintained in a safe condition. All ladders shall be inspected regularly, with the intervals between inspections being determined by use and exposure.

OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.23(b)(9) Ladders are inspected before initial use in each work shift, and more frequently as necessary, to identify any visible defects that could cause employee injury.

Everyone knows that safety training is crucial to the health and welfare of the workforce. But common sense type safety topics don't always make it into the safety meeting discussion. Do not assume that employees have the same knowledge that you do and do not take common sense for granted.

Make sure the basics are covered in toolbox talks and safety meetings on a regular basis, including how to conduct a proper ladder inspection. Employees may not ask or speak up about something they think is "a stupid question" and they don't want to risk embarrassment in front of their co-workers, so they may take an unsafe action without knowing it. The easy fix is to have regular safety meetings (even if they are only 5 minutes long!) on the simple stuff too.

When planning a safety meeting or safety moment about ladder inspections, don't forget to emphasize these important points.

  • Always visually inspect ladder feet to ensure that foot pads and feet assembly are present and in safe condition. Damaged or missing feet pads can cause you to slip or lose balance and suffer a deadly fall.
  • Inspect the rungs, rails, lock (dawgs), rope, and pulley assembly of an extension ladder and be sure that all parts work properly.
  • It is very important to make certain that the rope and pulley are working and that the ladder locks (dawgs) do not slip!
  • Never attempt to repair a ladder! Do not use wire, screws, bolts, duct tape or electrical tape as a way to fix any ladder; instead, tag it and remove it from service.
  • Inspect the top cap, all steps, side rails, and locking braces on a step ladder before using.
  • Loose locking braces or spreaders can cause the ladder to wobble and become unstable.
  • Ladder inspections should include making sure that labels are readable and haven't been painted over or damaged.
  • Check the rungs and steps for mud, grease, or dirt to avoid potential slip/fall hazards.
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper inspection and use of the specific ladder.
  • Remove any ladder from service that is found to be defective!
  • Never use a step ladder (in a folded position) as an extension ladder!

Weeklysafety.com wanted to provide some links to useful ladder inspection checklists to our readers but after an extensive online search, all the ladder checklists we found were either 1) difficult to understand, or 2) excessively complicated, or 3) excessively long, or 4) were more than just an "inspection checklist" and included other items like ladder usage and ladder training, etc.

So, you know what we did. Yep. We created our own ladder inspection checklist, and we are making it available to everyone. It’s yours to download for free and use with your crews.

Ladder Inspection Checklist.jpg

Our goals for this checklist were the following:

  1. short – only 1 page
  2. can be 3-hole punched to put into a binder for recordkeeping
  3. simple, easy to train the crew how to use
  4. easy to understand what to look for, no complicated language
  5. inspection checklist only
  6. will work for ANY ladder, even a fixed ladder (side of the building) or an attic ladder or a platform ladder in addition to common step + extension ladders
  7. will work for wooden, metal, fiberglass, and aluminum ladders
  8. can be laminated for use with a whiteboard marker for multiple uses (if so desired)

In honor of Ladder Safety Month, this is our gift to you. Click the button below to download your Ladder Inspection Checklist today.

If you need safety topic ideas, we can help. Weeklysafety.com has hundreds of safety meeting topics, toolbox talks and safety moment ideas that you can use so you don't have to waste time searching online anymore. Get 10 free safety topic sheets today (delivered to your email inbox immediately!) and if you want more, start your risk-free subscription to Weeklysafety.com today.

Safety: 10 Easy Steps to Get Started

Safety: 10 Easy Steps to Get Started

Safety Meetings & Toolbox Talks

Safety Meetings & Toolbox Talks

0