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Ladders - Inspection

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When should you inspect ladders?

  • Inspect new ladders promptly upon receipt.
  • Inspect ladders before each use.
  • Check the condition of ladders that have been dropped or have fallen before using them again.

What should you look for when inspecting any ladder?

  • missing or loose steps or rungs (they are loose if you can move them by hand)
  • damaged or worn non-slip feet
  • loose nails, screws, bolts or nuts
  • loose or faulty spreaders, locks, and other metal parts in poor repair
  • rot, decay or warped rails in wooden ladders
  • cracks and exposed fibreglass in fibreglass ladders
  • cracked, split, worn or broken rails, braces, steps or rungs
  • sharp edges on rails and rungs
  • rough or splintered surfaces
  • corrosion, rust, oxidization and excessive wear, especially on treads
  • twisted or distorted rails. Check ladders for distortion by sighting along the rails. Using a twisted or bowed ladder is hazardous.
  • missing identification labels

What other things should I look for when inspecting stepladders?

  • wobble
  • loose or bent hinges and hinge spreaders
  • broken stop on a hinge spreader

What should you look for when inspecting extension ladders?

  • loose, broken or missing extension locks
  • defective locks that do not seat properly when ladder is extended
  • sufficient lubrication of working parts
  • defective cords, chains and ropes
  • missing or defective pads or sleeves

What should you do after inspecting any ladder?

  • Tag any defective ladders and take them out of service.
  • Clean fibreglass ladders every three months. Spray lightly with a clear lacquer or paste wax.
  • Protect wooden ladders with a clear sealer or wood preservative.
  • Replace worn or frayed ropes on extension ladders.
  • Lubricate pulleys on extension ladders regularly.

What are some things you should not do after inspecting ladders?

  • Do not make temporary or makeshift repairs.
  • Do not try to straighten or use bent or bowed ladders.

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Document last updated on April 8, 1999
Document confirmed current on September 30, 2010

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Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.