A simple guide to ladder safety inspection

Aug 4, 2021

The Work at Height Regulations requires all equipment to be inspected at regular intervals by a competent and trained person. However, it is also vital that all equipment is visually inspected before every use to make sure that it is safe to use there and then. Sophie Ellam, Product Manager at WernerCo, offers advice on what to look out for when inspecting a ladder to determine whether or not it is safe to use.

Before using any ladder, a pre-use visual safety check should be carried out to ensure that the ladder is fit for purpose and safe to use. This should be done at the beginning of every working day, after something has changed, such as a ladder has been dropped, left unattended for a period of time, transported on a vehicle or moved from a dirty area to a clean area of the work site. It is also vital to check any equipment you are using, which has previously been in use by someone else to ensure it is safe to use.

When carrying out a safety check ensure the appropriate time and care has been taken to fully inspect the equipment as while some defects are fairly obvious to spot others may not be as evident.

Feet tips and end caps - it is important that the feet tips are all present and secure. The feet should not be warped in any way and the anti-slip ground contact surfaces should be undamaged and free and clear of debris and dirt. Stile ends should also be undamaged and there should be no cracks, cuts or holes.

Braces and cross tubes - whilst some wear and tear is acceptable, anything that shows signs of pronounced or excessive bending, bowing or creasing will need to be addressed immediately. Additionally, there should be no twisting of the braces or cross tubes. Rivets and fixings should all be present and secure, and rust or corrosion is only acceptable as long as it doesn’t weaken any of the ladder’s structure.

Platforms - when it comes to stepladders, it is important to ensure that the platform is in a suitable and safe working condition. Make sure all fittings are present and undamaged and that there is no bending, folding or twisting on the upper surface of the platform. There should also be no signs of significant denting that may compromise the strength of the platform. Finally, make sure the support and linkage mechanism are both present and undamaged.

Rungs and Treads - make sure none are missing, loose bent, excessively worn, corroded or damaged. It is also important to check that all fixings are secure. If there is any significant denting, the strength of the tread may be compromised and the ladder should be replaced immediately. To minimise the risk of slips whilst climbing the ladder, make sure the ladder is clean and free from any spillages or debris.

Stiles and Frames - the stiles and frames should be checked to ensure there is no bending, longitudinal twisting or bowing. Make sure the ladder is generally rigid. The front to rear frame attachment or hinging should be secure and all rivets and fixings should be present. There should be no signs of corrosion to components and they should be clean of dirt, paint, oil or grease. All stops and bushes and any other safety restraint devices should also be present, secure and undamaged, along with any stabilisers.

In addition to the steps above, there are also recommended checks that you should carry out in the user instructions, particularly for additional features on specific ladder types, such as telescopic or multi-hinge joint ladders. Therefore, it is vital to keep a copy of the manufacturer’s user instructions close to hand to refer to if you are unsure what you should be looking for.

If you spot any defects at all, no matter how small, do not use the damaged ladder and report these defects immediately and remove the ladder from site.

By carrying out a visual safety check before every use it will help prevent any unnecessary accidents and injuries to yourself or your colleagues.

For added peace of mind you should only use a ladder that has no visible defects at all, has an up to date record of detailed visual inspections carried out regularly by a competent person and that have been maintained, stored and transported in accordance with the user instructions.

Learn more or download inspection guide



Media contact:

Madeleine Read

E: [email protected]

T: 0121 454 9707

Lucy Kendrick

E: [email protected]

T: 0121 454 9707