Published 2 Nov 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.
A ladder inspection checklist is a step-by-step guide used to ensure that a ladder passes quality and safety measures. Use this checklist to identify equipment defects before use to reduce risks and accidents such as cuts, bruises, or other severe injuries. Make the most of this ladder inspection checklist by following the points below:
- Take or attach a photo of a ladder and its tag or label
- Describe ladder type, length, class, and weight supported
- Provide photo evidence of identified defects
- Rate ladder, add your comments or recommendations, and sign off with a digital signature.
This article will discuss the following:
- What is a Ladder Inspection Checklist?
- What to Include?
- How Often Should Ladders Be Inspected?
- Importance of Ladder Inspection
- What Should Be Inspected Before Using a Ladder?
- How to Perform a Ladder Inspection?
- Ladder Inspection Tips
- Using iAuditor for Ladder Inspection
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:
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 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.
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.
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iAuditor Ladder Inspection Checklist Templates
SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) 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.
Ladder Inspection Checklists
A ladder safety checklist is used to assess if a ladder is suitable for use and will not be a cause of injury. Use this checklist to conduct safety checks by testing the ladder’s functionality and reliability. Ensure that the ladder has gone through proper inspection (before and after use) and identify defects that may cause potential risks such as falls.
This OSHA Ladder Inspection Form was converted with SafetyCulture (iAuditor). Use this as a guide in purchasing, maintenance, and usage of ladders to ensure worker safety. Maximize SafetyCulture (iAuditor)’s features by capturing photos of ladders before use and highlight specific hazards by annotating defects. Record observations regarding ladder usage and assign appropriate actions to your supervisor to notify them about potential hazards detected while working on ladders.
Primarily based on Stairways and Ladders: A Guide to OSHA Rules, this ladder inspection checklist also includes guidance from OSHA Standard 1910.23 (Ladders) and OSHA Portable Ladder Safety QuickCard. Use this digital checklist to perform a quick inspection of the ladder and add photos of defects you’ve identified. To notify someone regarding a particular ladder defect or unsafe condition, assign an action to them and indicate its priority level.
Based on HSE guidance for the safe use of ladders and stepladders, this ladder inspection checklist can be used by those in the UK to informally evaluate a ladder’s compliance with the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR). With this digital checklist, you can easily perform pre-use checks or detailed visual inspections of ladders. It includes the following key steps:
- Check the stiles
- Check the feet
- Check the rungs
- Check any locking mechanisms
- Check the step ladder platform
- Check the steps or treads on stepladders
Perform a portable ladder inspection using this digital checklist. Check if the portable ladder is intact, with no missing parts, and free from breaks, bends, splits, chips, fractures, and compression failures. Inspect the bolts, rivets, rungs, feet, and operating ropes of the portable ladder. Ensure that all pivoting or rotating surfaces of the portable ladder are lubricated. Sign-off to complete the portable ladder inspection.
Perform a fixed ladder inspection using this digital checklist. Check if the ladder is securely attached, sturdy, and free of loose screws, bolts, or other metal parts. Inspect the ladder for cracks, splits, broken uprights, braces, or rungs. Ensure that ladder rungs/steps are free of grease or oil. Assess if the overall condition of the fixed ladder is safe to finish the inspection.
This template can be used by managers and safety teams to inspect if a ladder was set up and used properly during operations. Start by recording the nature of work and identifying the type of ladder used to perform the task. Then evaluate the process of setting up and climbing up a ladder. Lastly, provide recommendations to improve safety.
Proper usage of PPE can reduce the risk of falling or tripping when using a ladder. Use this template to select the appropriate equipment associated with the task being performed when using a ladder. Record hazards that may be in contact with the body, select the correct PPE and inspect PPE condition by taking photo evidence. Use SafetyCulture (iAuditor) to ensure quality PPE before use to prevent serious injuries that may be encountered.
Keeping an accident report helps track improvement on ladder safety. Use this template to document accidents caused by faulty ladders, improper use of ladder or not wearing recommended PPE. Start by recording information of the injured person, injury details, contributing factors and recommendations. You may also include emergency services involved, hospitalization information and witness statements. Use SafetyCulture (iAuditor) to take photo evidence of the injury and track accident location.