Dept. of Industrial Relations logo

3. Inspect Ladders Before Use

Cal OSHA requires ladders to be inspected.

Before use, employees should always inspect both Self Supporting and Not Self Supporting ladders for the items checking:

  • for damage, lack of structural integrity, missing components or loose parts
  • that labels are intact and readable.
  • that accessories (e.g., leg levelers, paint shelves, stand-off shelves) are in good condition.
  • for even feet (to avoid backward or sideways slipping out at the bottom).
  • for slip resistant material on the base or nonskid feet
    Slip resistant material on the base or nonskid feet.
  • on extensions ladders that:
    • ropes and pullers are in good condition
    • stops are on rails of the top section to ensure it will not fall, and on are on both rails of the bottom section to ensure enough overlap between the sections. The sliding section (s) (the "fly") should overlap the bottom section (the "base") by at least:
      • 3 feet on ladders up to 32 feet long
      • 4 feet on ladders 32 - 36 feet long
      • 5 feet on ladders 36 - 48 feet long
      • 6 feet on ladders longer than 48 feet
        Stops (for extensions ladders)on rails of the top section to ensure it will not fall, and on both rails of the bottom section to ensure enough overlap between the sections.
  • DAMAGED OR WORN LADDERS SHOULD BE DESTROYED
  • for Metal Ladders inspect for:
    • loose rungs, nails, bolts screws and other metal parts
    • bent or dented rungs or rails
    • sharp edges, corners and burrs
    • damage from corrosion
  • for Wood Ladders inspect for:
    • integrity of rungs and rails
    • chips, splits, cracks and splinters in the rails
    • holes and knots
    • loose / wiggly parts
  • for Fiberglass or Plastic Ladders inspect for:
    • breaks, cracks, chips and splinters
    • deformed rails or rungs from heat, chemical or environmental exposure
  • for Self Supporting Step Ladders:
    • in addition to the items mentioned above, verify that the two front legs are the same length and that the two hind legs are the same length