Ladder Inspection Checklists

Proactively identify, correct, and report ladder defects and damages to promote worker safety in compliance with regulations

employee taking safety measures with ladders

Published 4 Jul 2022

What is Ladder Inspection?

Ladder inspection is the process of inspecting ladders for safety and to ensure that they are in good working condition. As an equipment frequently used to accomplish a variety of tasks, maintaining the safety of ladders through regular inspections is important to help prevent ladder-related incidents and comply with regulations mandating the safe use of ladders in the workplace.

This article will discuss the following:

What is a Ladder Inspection Checklist?

A ladder inspection checklist is a tool guide used in assessing the working condition of a ladder. It helps ensure that a ladder passes safety and quality standards before use and that it is being used correctly by trained workers. Performing regular ladder inspections help reduce the likelihood of injuries caused by equipment malfunction and improve overall worker safety.

Using a ladder inspection checklist can help proactively catch issues that could lead to work-related injuries.

What to Include in Your Ladder Inspection Checklist?

Ladder inspection checklists allow users and safety managers to regularly check and maintain a ladder’s condition with the goal to prevent any ladder-related injuries. Ladder inspection checklists should also provide an easy-to-follow guide on which areas to check so as to not miss anything before, during, and after using an industrial ladder.

See below some of the sample questions you can consider including in your checklist:

General Information

First, you need to be clear about the characteristics of the ladder to be inspected and used. This will help you identify the ladder’s limitations and encourage proper use. Some of the ideal checklist questions you can add are:

  • What is the type of the specific ladder to be used?
  • What material is used for the ladder?
  • What is the length of the ladder?
  • What is the classification of the ladder (light duty, medium duty, heavy duty, etc.)?
  • What is the maximum weight supported by the ladder?

Ladder Inspection

Ladder inspection is the part where you’ll need to check the ladder in detail. It is ideal to put very specific questions that would enable any inspectors and all users to inspect ladders in a straightforward manner. These questions can be like:

  • Do the feet of the ladder work properly and have slip-resistant pads?
  • Are the rung locks and spreader braces working?
  • Are bolts and rivets secured?
  • Are steps and rungs free from oil, grease, and other materials?
  • Is the ladder stored properly and well-maintained when not in use?

How Often Should It Be Inspected?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the US, ladders should be inspected before initial use in each shift and even more often, if necessary. Similarly, guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK states that ladders should be inspected at the beginning of each working day. 

Aside from these daily inspections, ladders should also be inspected whenever there is a change in their location or in the task that they are to be used for to ensure that they don’t have any defects that can lead to injury. 

Importance of Conducing an Inspection

A ladder is an extremely high-risk piece of equipment, with 24% of fatal falls and 81% of fall injuries in construction involving the use of ladders. To help lessen the likelihood of injury or death when using a ladder, it’s important to always perform a ladder inspection before use. 

Without a ladder inspection, critical defects of the ladder go unnoticed and pose a danger to the lives and safety of workers who use the ladder. Neglecting to perform ladder inspections may also lead to possible safety violations and fines for non-compliance. 

Consistently cited as one of the top 10 OSHA safety violations, ladder safety is vital to reinforcing workplace safety and in preventing incidents such as falls, one of the most common causes of work-related injuries and fatalities.

What Should Be Inspected?

Before using a ladder, first check if it’s possible to perform the job or work without the use of a ladder. Since ladders can be incredibly dangerous, avoiding their use can minimize the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities. If using a ladder cannot be avoided, it’s important to inspect the following before proceeding with the task:

  • Label and Manufacturer’s Instructions – to find out if the ladder was designed to be used for the task at hand and if there is a specific inspection procedure for the ladder
  • Tag – to find out if the ladder was inspected before and if the previous ladder inspection revealed that the ladder was safe to use or should not be used
  • Fall Protection or Fall Arrest Systems – required for work performed at 2 meters or above (working at height) and includes safety harnesses and landing areas
  • Condition and Cleanliness – all parts of the ladder should have no signs of damage or defect and should be free from debris, dirt, oil, and grease

How to Perform a Ladder Inspection

The best way to ensure that a ladder is safe to use is to perform a ladder inspection. While ladder inspections are the responsibility of the employer, all workers should be trained on how to properly inspect and safely use a ladder.

Portable Ladder Inspection

Step 1: Lay the ladder flat on the ground.

Step 2: Start at the base of the ladder and inspect the feet, foot pads, and shoes.

Step 3: Inspect the ladder rails and rungs for any damage such as dents or cracks.

Step 4: Check if the connections of the rungs to the rails are secure. 

Step 5: Inspect the spreader and see if it opens and closes smoothly.

Step 6: For extension ladders, inspect the locks and flippers of the lock.

Step 7: For extension ladders, bring the ladder up from the ground and rest it against the structure that it will be placed on during use. Do not go up on the ladder to inspect it.

Step 8: For extension ladders, check if the rope is properly secured to the fly section of the ladder and that the rope moves easily through the pulley system.

Fixed Ladder Inspection

Step 1: Inspect for corrosion, rot, splinters or protruding pieces, and loose components.

Step 2: Start at the bottom of the ladder and check the supports, fasteners, and anchors.

Step 3: Visually inspect the clearances of the ladder for obstructions and determine if climbing up and down can be done easily, with minimal chances of falling or of being unable to get down to ground level.

Step 4: Go up the ladder and while using three points of contact, inspect the side rails, grab bars, and side rail extension anchors. It’s recommended to do this by section to allow enough time for the ladder inspection and for maintaining safety while on the ladder.

Step 5: Inspect hatches, if there are any, and the hatches’ opening arms.

Inspection Tips

Aside from using the steps mentioned in the previous section, those inspecting ladders should also keep in mind these following tips:

  • Be aware of the ladder material type – Wooden ladders are likely to have splinters, cracks, or chips, and are susceptible to rot. Metal ladders, such as those made out of aluminum or steel, may not be suitable for use near electrical equipment. 
  • Tag and dispose of damaged ladders – Even ladders that have only minor damage should be tagged “Do Not Use” and promptly set aside for disposal. However, if a ladder with minimal defects must be used, send it for repair first before using it.
  • Don’t use ladders in unsafe conditions – For ladders that are used outdoors or are exposed to the elements, avoid using them when it’s raining or even right after the rain, as the ladders could still be wet. Strong winds should also be taken into consideration when using ladders since they may cause workers to lose their balance.

iAuditor Ladder Inspection Checklist Templates

iAuditor by SafetyCulture is a mobile inspection platform that empowers workers to proactively catch ladder safety concerns using ladder inspection checklists. Streamline inspection recordkeeping with easy and secure access to inspections reports anytime, anywhere. 

Instantly get notified and address equipment malfunctions, such as ladder defects, to help workers avoid accidents that could lead to injury or fatality. Using iAuditor, you can:

  • Perform ladder inspections with a tablet or mobile device.
  • Take photos and attach photo evidence with annotations to illustrate identified issues.
  • Improve communication between members of your workforce with easy report sharing.
  • Generate comprehensive reports as soon as inspections are completed.
  • Securely save all reports in the cloud. 

Preview a sample ladder inspection checklist PDF report or get started with iAuditor today by using any of our free ladder inspection checklist templates. Feel free to download the ladder inspection checklists in PDF or digital format.

SafetyCulture staff writer

SafetyCulture staff writer

Erick Brent Francisco

Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.

Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.