Benefits and Hazards When Using Platform Ladders

Posted by Kevin Prior on

Within recent years, trends have shown an increase in the use of platform ladders, both in industrial and residential users. Here is why you shouldn’t be without one.


Platform ladders improve productivity: more platform space and longer handrails allow for more room to move while working in multiple directions.


Platform ladders are more comfortable to work on, with complete foot support on the platform you can work longer without experiencing fatigue.


Platform ladders can improve safety statistics: They eliminate the top cap and top step which are not safe for climbing.  Elimination of non-climbing surfaces can reduce misuse and OSHA fines. In addition, less climbing up and down provides less opportunity for slips and falls.


Beware of these hazards when using platform ladders:

  • Broken or damaged ladders
  • Unstable or slippery ground surface
  • Slippery substances on shoes or the ladder steps
  • Climbing up or down in an unsafe manner
  • Poor housekeeping near the ladder
  • Using a ladder in a high-traffic area
  • Close proximity to electrical dangers


Some (but not all!) platform ladders can be used by two workers at the same time. Before assuming two people can climb the same ladder, refer to the manufacturer’s user manual and the warning labels on the ladder to understand the weight limits and safety guidelines.

Always follow all manufacturer’s warnings for the specific type of ladder being used.

Before climbing a platform ladder, think about where and how it will be set up. Read and follow all the instructions provided with the ladder as well as the warnings on the ladder.

All four ladder feet must be set firmly on the floor or the ground. Do not set up a platform ladder on any unstable, loose, or slippery surface. Never place a ladder on top of other objects, like shelves, scaffolds, boxes, or pallets, to try to gain more height to access the work area.

Do not set up a platform ladder in front of unlocked doors. When it is necessary to set up a ladder in an area like a passageway, doorway, or driveway, the ladder should be secured, and the area should be barricaded to keep traffic and pedestrians away from the ladder to avoid displacement.

Avoid electrical hazards! Look for overhead power lines before handling or climbing a ladder. Do not use a metal ladder near power lines or electrical equipment.

Do not use any portable ladder outdoors in high winds or stormy weather.

Ladder inspections are required! The OSHA Construction standard states that ladders must be inspected on a periodic basis and the General Industry standard states that ladders must be inspected before the first time they are used each shift.

During a ladder inspection look at all the working parts, bolts, rivets, step-to-side rail connections, and the condition of the anti-slip feet.

If the ladder is damaged, if there are missing parts, or if you find any other hazardous defect, remove it from service and tag it. The ladder must be repaired before it can be used again or properly discarded. Never use a damaged ladder!




Impress your safety director by demonstrating a commitment to safety!




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