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Skidmore College
Occupational and Environmental Safety

Ladder Safety Program

43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder, a leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide. Among workers, approximately 20 percent of fall injuries involve ladders, and among construction workers, an estimated 81 percent of fall injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involve a ladder (CDC 2014 report). 

Purpose and Scope

The purpose and scope of this document is to put forth the regulations regarding Ladder Safety procedures and training at Skidmore University. CFR 1926. 1950-1960 Subpart X contains specific information on these rules. All employees or students who might be expected to use a ladder during the course of work should be familiar with this document. This standard operating procedure covers all types of ladders, including step, extension and fixed ladders. Ladder users must be able to recognize and avoid ladder hazards and be aware of safe practices in setting up, storing, moving and working from this equipment. 


It is the responsibility of all supervisors, department managers and staff who have employees or students under their supervision who may have occasion to use any type of ladder during the performance of the work, to assure that all staff and students at Skidmore who may use a ladder receive ladder safety training.

It is the responsibility of Environmental Health and Safety to provide basic ladder training safety information to all departments in need of that training.

It is the responsibility of all supervisors, department managers and staff to assure that all ladders being used at Skidmore are free from defects and that all moving parts are working properly.

It is the responsibility of all supervisors, department managers, faculty and staff to maintain records on departmental ladder training. 

Ladder Categories

  • Type IA: 300 pounds, extra heavy duty
  • Type I: 250 pounds, heavy duty
  • Type II: 225 pounds, medium duty
  • Type III: 200 pounds, light duty

Fixed Ladder: A ladder that cannot be easily moved or carried and may be an integral part of a structure.


  • All Skidmore employees and students who use ladders should have ladder safety training.
  • Ladder safety training will consist of recognition of possible hazards associated with ladder use, proper maintenance and safety precautions to be taken when using ladders.
  • All employees and students who use ladders at Skidmore must inspect them for defects or possible hazards before the ladders are used. Ladders with loose parts or faulty rungs should be taken out of service immediately.
  • Ladders that are taken out of service should be tagged "Defective" and removed from the work area.
  • Whenever possible have someone within shouting distance while on a ladder.
  • Safe ladder setup
  • All ladders must be placed on firm ground.
  • Do not set ladders on boxes, blocks or other objects that might move.
  • Do not lean or reach out while standing on ladders.
  • Secure ladders whenever a danger of slippage might occur.
  • Do not use ladders in high wind or during inclement weather conditions.
  • Never set up ladders in front of or around doors, unless the door is posted or locked.
  • Do not sit on ladders.
  • Use safety shoes or other rubber-soled shoes when climbing a ladder.
  • Climbing and standing on ladders safely
  • Always face a ladder when climbing up or down.
  • Avoid carrying materials or tools when climbing a ladder. Climb the ladder first, then pull up the materials with a rope.
  • Rungs and steps should be clear of grease, oil, wet paint, snow and ice before climbing.
  • Do not climb onto a ladder from the side.
  • Do not slide down a ladder.
  • Climb or stand on a ladder with your feet in the center of the rung.
  • Do not stand on the top rung or step of a ladder.
  • Proper use and care of ladders
  • Never use metal ladders near exposed electrical wires.
  • Place warning signs or setup barriers around a ladder before use.
  • Do not move a ladder while someone is on it.
  • Never use a ladder when under the influence of alcohol or prescription medications.
  • Do not leave tools or materials on top of ladders.
  • Only one person should be on a ladder at a time.
  • Do not use a ladder on a scaffold.
  • Do not try to rock a ladder to move it.
  • Store wood ladders where they will not be exposed to the elements.
  • Make sure ladders are properly secured when transported.
  • Do not paint wood ladders. Painting could hide potentially dangerous defects.
  • Remove defective ladders from service.
  • Step ladder safety
  • Never use a stepladder more than 20 feet in length.
  • Always open a stepladder completely and make sure the spreader is locked before use.
  • Do not stand higher than the second step from the top of a step ladder.
  • Do not straddle a stepladder.

Extension Ladder Safety

The sections of an extension ladder should overlap enough to retain the strength of the ladder. *See table 1A

  • Never splice or tie two short ladders together.
  • When using a ladder for access to a landing, it must extend three rungs or 3 feet above the landing.
  • The top of an extension ladder should rest against a flat, firm surface.
  • Elevate and extend these extension ladders only from the ground.
  • When practical, secure extension ladders at both the base and the top.
  • Extension ladder setup
  • Lay the ladder on the ground when it is collapsed.
  • Have someone foot the ladder or make sure it is braced against something.
  • Pick up the ladder and walk it to an upright position, making sure it will not be obstructed by trees or wires.
  • Slide the bottom of the ladder outward to the proper angle and set the feet correctly.
  • Then extend the ladder by pulling the extension line.
  • Make sure the rungs on the upper half of the ladder are properly secured by the locking mechanism.
  • If possible, tie the ladder off or have someone steady the ladder as you climb it.
  • Fixed ladder safety
  • Fixed ladders must be secured to the object they are attached to.
  • Fixed ladders more than 20 feet must have a safety cage surrounding the ladder.
  • The safety cage should have 15 inches of clearance to all points from the center.
  • Defects in fixed ladders should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • When a defect is not repairable, the ladder must be taken out of service.

Table 1A

Length of Ladder    Required Overlap

Up to 36′                     3 Feet

Over 36’ to 48′            4 Feet

Over 48′ to 60′           5 Feet