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Toolbox Talk - Ladders

Max People Health & Safety Bulletin

Gravity works against us.

Gravity never forgets. As soon as we set foot on a ladder and pull our body off the ground, gravity works to bring us back to earth.

Unfortunately, an estimated 70 people fall from steps or ladders each week in New Zealand. Statistics show that approximately 70% of construction-related falls from height in New Zealand are from ladders and roofs.

The main reason for ladder accidents is the ladder slipping, generally due to users overreaching or because the ladder is not properly secured.

Tips to work safety

  • Ensure ladders are positioned on level ground and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Don’t overreach, keep the line of the belt buckle (navel) inside the stiles with both feet on the same rung while working.
  • Don’t rest tools or other items on the steps or hanging from the rungs.
  • Carry tools on a tool belt.
  • Keep three points of contact on the ladder at all times – two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand while climbing up or down.
  • Ladders must be trade or industrial standard with a rating of either 120 kg or 150 kg and comply with the AS/NZS 1892 standard.
  • Ladders should be clearly labelled, structurally sound, and not covered in chemicals or other materials.
  • Ensure the ladder is maintained and in good condition – no loose rivets, no splits in the stiles, all safety components working correctly.
  • Have the steps facing the work activity.
  • Do not use makeshift or home-made ladders or carry out makeshift repairs to a damaged ladder.
  • Only use stepladders ladders in a fully open position. Lock the side braces and cross braces before climbing.
  • Do not use a stepladder as a straight ladder in a folded and leaning position.
  • Watch for people working under or around the ladder.
  • Get others to foot the ladder for added stability.
  • Set your ladder on a solid, stable base and at the correct 4-to-1 angle
  • Tie off the top of the ladder, and the bottom if possible, to prevent it from slipping sideways.

Lots of Do's and Don'ts, but we want you to work as safely as possible when using a ladder. It only takes a moment for things to go wrong.