The Law Office of Gary C. Nelson

We’re On Your Side

5 critical mistakes people make when using ladders

On Behalf of | Sep 24, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

No matter your occupation, if you have to use a ladder at work, you’re in greater danger than if you didn’t use it. Falls from the same level can lead to significant injuries, and falls from any height are simply more dangerous. You could be a store employee getting something from a high shelf or a painter who works on ladders every day. You must be aware of the risk.

That said, you can’t always avoid using ladders. What you can do is avoid making mistakes. Here are five to keep in mind.

  1. Reaching to the side: You have to stay balanced on a ladder by staying almost exactly vertical while using it. Reaching to the side can cause you to fall off of the ladder or, even if you don’t lose your grip, the ladder itself can tip over.
  2. Using only two points of contact: The rule of thumb is to always have at least three points of contact. This means that, as you step up, both hands should be holding the ladder. As you reach with your hand, both feet should be firmly on it. Letting go entirely or climbing too quickly is very dangerous.
  3. Failing to inspect the ladder: It’s all too easy to assume that the ladder is in good condition and to start using it without a second thought. This is very risky, especially if someone else set it up. Always inspect it to make sure it’s in good condition and that it’s been set up properly.
  4. Standing on the top rungs: If you cannot reach high enough, you need a taller ladder. Do not climb on the highest rungs or onto the flat top of a stepladder. These are not designed to hold you and falls are common.
  5. Carrying too many items: Making multiple trips is inefficient, and the workplace is often focused on efficiency. However, you’re far better off making multiple trips than carrying too many parts and materials, risking a fall. You also have to consider the ladder’s weight limit.


Avoiding these mistakes can help you avoid a fall, but accidents do happen. Those who are injured on the job need to know how to get workers’ comp benefits.