The following is a quick overview on how to use step ladders. These requirements may vary with individual circumstances such as the school layout and physical environment, weather, type of work being done, who is using the step ladder, type of step ladder, etc. More detailed information on ladders and working at heights can be found on the WorkSafe website.
Before using a ladder
- Consider alternative methods of doing the job so that ladders do not need to be used. For example using rope and pulley systems to raise and lower artwork and banners
- Work on step ladders at heights over 2 metres should only be done by qualified tradespeople. Similarly extension ladders should only be used by qualified tradespeople
- Provide step ladders that have a minimum 120 kg load capacity and comply with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1892 Portable Ladders
- Follow the ladder manufacturer’s warnings and instructions
- Discuss this information with the staff who will be using ladders and any Health and Safety Representatives if applicable.
Setting up a step ladder
- Check step ladders for damage and read safety labels before use. Never use a ladder that has been damaged or has missing parts
- Do NOT place metallic ladders near powerlines, live wires or live electrical installations
- Do NOT set up ladders in driveways, near steps or doors where they can be hit or knocked. You may also need to consider whether you need to use witches hats or spotters
- Make sure that the base of the ladder is not near hazards that people could fall onto such as furniture, sharp objects, equipment, rocks, loose bricks, posts, spikes, etc
- Use step ladders with non-slip feet and place them on a firm flat surface so they do not slip
- Set up step ladders in a fully opened position with the spreaders locked
- Do NOT leave ladders unattended while they are erected.
Using a ladder safely
- Wear non-slip footwear. Avoid clothing that can be caught, entangled or cause you to fall from a ladder
- Do not use ladders during high wind, lightning, rain or poor weather
- When climbing up and down a ladder: face the ladder, maintain ‘three points of body contact’ by keeping two feet and one hand, or one foot and two hands on the ladder., do not carry heavy, bulky or awkward items that obscure your vision. A second person may be needed to assist with this
- When working from a ladder: face the ladder, maintain ‘three points of body contact’ by keeping two feet and one hand, or one foot and two hands on the ladder., do not do heavy work or hold items such as tools or materials with both hands., do not use hand or power tools that require leverage - such as spanners, pinchbars, grinders, impact drills, power saws - as this may result in overbalancing or falling, work with one’s belly button between the vertical uprights
- Only one person to be on a ladder at the same time with nobody working underneath it
- Do NOT stand on the top two rungs of a step ladder
- Never straddle a step ladder.
Additonal ladder safely
- Ladders should be regularly inspected for faults such as missing, cracked, broken, loose, worn or warped parts. If found faulty they should be replaced or repaired in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations by a qualified person
- Ladders should not be painted as essential safety information may be covered up
- When not in use, ladders should be stored horizontally on hooks at waist height in a secure area where they cannot be used by unauthorised persons such as students, staff and volunteers.