May, 2002
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

CPSC offers safety tips to prevent ladder injuries


Each year there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the U.S. relating to ladders. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers the following safety precautions to help prevent these injuries.

• Make sure the weight your ladder is supporting does not exceed its maximum load rating (user plus materials). There should only be one person on the ladder at one time.

• Use a ladder that is the proper length for the job. Proper length is a minimum of 3 feet extending over the roofline or working surface. The three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder should not be stood on.

• Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at about a 75-degree angle.

• All metal ladders should have slip-resistant feet.

• Metal ladders will conduct electricity. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder in the vicinity of power lines or electrical equipment. Do not let a ladder made from any material contact live electric wires.

• Be sure all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged.

• The ground under the ladder should be level and firm. Large flat wooden boards braced under the ladder can level a ladder on uneven ground or soft ground. A good practice is to have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.

• Do not place a ladder in front of a door that is not locked, blocked or guarded.
• Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to the side while working.

• Do not use a ladder for any purpose other than that for which it was intended.

• Do not step on the top step, bucket shelf or attempt to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.

• Never leave a raised ladder unattended.

• Follow use instruction labels on ladders.