Stepping up to Safety series 2: In the know

Sep 12, 2022

Werner, the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of ladders and access equipment, is championing health and safety training with the launch of its new campaign ‘Stepping up to Safety’. In this mini-series, Trevor Rabson, Werner’s Training Manager, will look at why training is so important when it comes to working at height safely, what contractors need to consider and how best practice can make all the difference between safe working and potential injuries.

Series 2 talks about knowing how to use a ladder safely and how to follow best practice.


  • Ladders and stepladders are not banned under health and safety law
  • A risk assessment should be undertaken to assess whether a ladder is the right piece of equipment for a job
  • Ladders should not be used for jobs that will take longer than 30 minutes
  • Short duration should NOT be the deciding factor in establishing whether use of a ladder is acceptable – risk should be
  • Ladders should only be used in situations where they can be used safely, e.g. where the ladder will be level and stable, and can be secured (where it is reasonably practicable to do so)

The guidance calls for a sensible, proportionate approach to managing risk, and ladders can be a sensible and practical option for low-risk, short-duration tasks. They can be used for work at height when a risk assessment has shown that using equipment that offers a higher level of fall protection is not justified.

Once this has been decided, there are simple and sensible precautions you should adhere to stay safe when using ladders in the workplace.

Know how to use a ladder safely

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to use a ladder you must be competent or, if you are being trained, you should be working under the supervision of a competent person.

But what is competence? Competence can be shown via a combination of training, practical and theoretical knowledge and experience. However, experience only counts if it is based on using a ladder safely and correctly.

Best practice guide

Before using a ladder, users should have access to instructions from the manufacturer in case they need to be referred to.

A ‘pre-use’ check should always be carried out before any job to spot any obvious visual defects to make sure the ladder is safe to use. This check should be carried out:

  • by the person using the ladder
  • at the beginning of the working day
  • after something has changed, e.g. a ladder has been dropped or moved from a dirty area to a clean area

What to look out for when carrying out a safety check:


When it comes to stepladders with platforms, it is important to ensure that the platform is in a suitable, safe working condition and locks securely to the rear bar when open. Make sure all fittings are present and undamaged and that there is no bending, folding or twisting on the upper surface of the platform.


The stiles 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.


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.


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.


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.


If they are bent or the fixings are worn or damaged the ladder could collapse. Make sure you engage any locking bars.

If any of the above defects are detected during a pre-use check then equipment should NOT be used and the user must tell the person in charge of the work.

Stepping up to Safety

For more information on how to inspect ladders correctly, download Werner’s Inspecting Your Ladder Guide, part of its Stepping up to Safety campaign, to help professionals stay safe when working at height.

Working at height injuries and fatalities can be reduced with the drive for change from industry manufacturers and associations to lead the way in safety when working at height, leaving employers and employees feeling confident and safe at work.

To find out more information on the Stepping up to Safety campaign and to download the Inspecting your ladder guide visit: Stepping up to Ladder Safety



Media contact:

Emma Fitzpatrick

E: [email protected]

T: 0121 454 9707