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What should you do when using a stepladder?

  • Use a stepladder that is about 1 m (3 ft) shorter than the highest point you have to reach. This gives a wider, more stable base and places shelf at a convenient working height.
  • Open the stepladder spreaders and shelf fully.
  • Check stability. Ensure that all ladder feet are on a firm, level and non-slippery surface.
  • Place a stepladder at right angles to the work, with either the front or back of the steps facing the work.
  • Keep the stepladder close to the work.
Lock Spreader
  • Avoid pushing or pulling stepladders from the side. Repeated sideways movement can make ladders wobbly since they are weaker or less stable in those directions.
  • Face the stepladder when climbing up or down. Keep your body centered between side rails. You have climbed too high if your knees are above top of the stepladder or if you cannot maintain a handhold on the ladder.
  • Maintain a firm grip. Use both hands when climbing.

What should you avoid when using a stepladder?

  • Do not overreach. Move a stepladder when needed.
  • Do not "shift" or "walk" a stepladder when standing on it.
  • Do not stand, climb, or sit on the stepladder top or pail shelf.
  • Do not overload. Stepladders are meant for one person.
  • Do not use a stepladder as a brace or as a support for a work platform or plank.
  • Do not climb a stepladder that is leaning against a wall. Use a straight ladder instead.
  • Do not use stepladders on slippery surfaces
  • Do not use stepladders on soft ground where one leg may sink farther into the ground than others.
  • Do not place stepladders on boxes, unstable bases or on scaffolds to gain additional height.
  • Do not climb the back of a stepladder.
  • Do not push or pull stepladders sideways.
  • Do not use ladders in passageways, doorways, driveways or other locations where a person or vehicle can hit it. Set up suitable barriers or lock doors shut.
Stepladder Components
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Document confirmed current on September 30, 2010

Document last updated on January 22, 1998

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