Fixed Ladder Safety: What to Look for When Inspecting Your Fixed Ladder

Fixed Ladder Safety: What to Look for When Inspecting Your Fixed Ladder

13th July 2020

Fixed access ladders are often overlooked when it comes to safety, yet they account for thousands of workplace injuries every year. They need to be inspected routinely, especially after conducting an installation, modification or repairs. The inspection is vital for workplace and employee safety. Read on for some of the key factors to consider when inspecting your fixed ladder.


  1. Height of the Ladder

How tall is your fixed ladder? Experts recommend that you install a ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system (PFAS) if your fixed access ladder is taller than 24’. It’s important that you check the height of the ladder before climbing it, especially if it doesn’t have a safety system attached to it. The safety system or PFAS will also be useless if you don’t know exactly how to use it. Make sure that you’re properly trained on using the equipment and the proper PPE to match. Avoid using the system without being fully trained on using it and the PPE.


  1. Visual Inspection

Before ascending or descending your fixed ladder, you need to check for anything that may cause an issue. You don’t want to bump a hive when you’re 20 feet off the ground. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Oily or slippery substances on the rungs that could cause a slip.

  • Protrusions that may result in cuts, scrapes, snatching of clothing, or punctures to skin.

  • Wasp or bees nests that if disturbed can attack.


  1. The Rigidity of the Ladder

You can probably tell if your fixed ladder is solid or not, even when performing your visual inspection. If you notice rust or deterioration of the metal, cracked rungs, loose or missing hardware, or anything that’s compromising the integrity of the ladder, it is important to avoid using the ladder until the problem is fixed. There’s a chance the person using the ladder after you will not be as thorough in their inspection and may climb the ladder regardless. Therefore, it’s crucial that you tag the ladder as unsafe and report the issue immediately to your supervisor.


  1. Check the Top Rung

The top step of your fixed ladder should be level with the platform. This is to allow the user to have an additional hold when climbing up or down the ladder. It also helps minimise risk by reducing the height over which they need to step when they need to access the platform.


  1. Check if Stiles Extend to the Height of Guarding

Ladder stiles should always extend to the height of guarding to ensure the worker has a steady grip when working at height. Ensure to also check whether the ladder is fixed securely by the stiles and avoid sliding down the stiles when descending.


  1. Assess if There are Alternatives to Using the Ladder

In a situation where using a fixed ladder seems too risky, consider whether using conventional staircases would pose less of a safety hazard. This may require that you conduct a risk assessment to assess the level of risk when using a fixed ladder and whether suitable alternatives may be more appropriate.