The following is a quick overview on how to use ladders safely. 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 ladder, type of ladder, etc.
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 ladders at heights over 2 metres should only be done by qualified tradespeople. Similarly extension ladders should only be used by qualified tradespeople.
Where ladders are provided for use it is important that they have a minimum 120 kg load capacity and comply with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1892 Portable Ladders. Staff should also ensure they follow the ladder manufacturer’s warnings and instructions.
Discuss this information with the staff that will be using ladders and any Health and Safety Representatives if applicable.
Setting up a step ladder
When setting up a ladder it is important to note the following:
- check 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 ladders with non-slip feet and place them on a firm flat surface so they do not slip
- set up ladders in a fully opened position with the spreaders locked
- do NOT leave ladders unattended while they are erected.
Using a ladder safely
When using a ladder staff should wear non-slip footwear, avoid clothing that can be caught, entangled or cause them to fall from the ladder or use the ladder during high wind, lightning, rain or poor weather. When climbing up and down or working from a ladder you should:
- 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
- not carry heavy, bulky or awkward items that obscure your vision (a second person may be needed to assist with this)
- not use hand or power tools that require leverage - such as spanners, pinch bars, grinders, impact drills, power saws - as this may result in overbalancing or falling, work with one’s belly button between the vertical uprights
- only have one person on the ladder at the same time with nobody working underneath it
- NOT stand on the top two rungs of the ladder
- never straddle the ladder.
Additional ladder safety
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, and step ladders should be stored within easy reach