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Ladder inspection – how to assess safety

Ladder Inspection – How to Assess Safety

Ladders are responsible for hundreds of injuries each year. Most of them would have been preventable if proper guidance and usage was followed and many others could also have been prevented if the ladders were inspected before they were used.

Faulty, damaged or bent ladders are responsible for a large proportion of the accidents that occur when working at height. And ensuring that equipment is checked before use is not only sensible it is now part of European guidance and proper risk assessment procedures.

Choosing the Right Ladder

The first consideration when inspecting any piece of equipment is to ask yourself if it is the right tool for the job. Often the wrong ladder is one of the reasons for accident and injury and it is important to use the correct one when you have to work at height.

Here are some of the different types of ladder:

  • Leaning ladders – used against a wall of other vertical surface. Often extendible, these extension ladders are commonly used outdoors and can extend to several times their original length.
  • Step-ladders – more commonly used indoors these are often used for working on ceilings. The step can provide a good platform for tools and for working on.
  • Roof ladder – Suspended from roofs these ladders are for working down to a height rather than up.

Ladders are safe if used correctly


The next thing to assess is the structural integrity of the ladder. Ensure there are no bends, buckling or misshapen rungs. Then check for any cracks or splinters in the metal. Pay particular attention to where the rungs are attached to the uprights. Check the rungs are all secure and don;t move.

Next check the base of the ladder. If there are rubber feet, ensure they are not worn and they are flat. Often when a ladder has been used in an uneven surface the feet can wear on one side causing it to be unstable so it is time to replace it.


If any damage or faults are found on the ladder it is important that you ensure that the ladder is not used. Not only by yourself but also by anyone else. It should be clearly signed and taped and the damage should be reported as soon as possible and under any circumstances – Never use a damaged ladder.

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