Portable Ladders Checklist

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Labor Occupational Health Program

Summary Statement

A checklist for portable ladders, including sections for inspecting ladders, selecting the right one, placement and work practices. Part of a collection. Click on the 'collection' button to access the other items.

These tailgate/toolbox talks were developed for use under California OSHA regulations. The complete set is available from the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley. For ordering information, visit the website (www.lohp.org) The American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has adapted these talks to apply to federal OSHA regulations. To contact ACGIH, visit its web site (www.acgih.org).

Date Prepared:_________________________ By:_______________________
Project Name/No.______________________ Location:__________________

  • Check the box if the statement is true.

  • Citations in brackets are from Title 8 of the California Administrative Code.


  • The company has a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) that meets all Cal/OSHA requirements. It includes identification of ladder hazards on the site, regular inspections, accident investigation, and correction of hazardous conditions. [1509]
  • All defective ladders are tagged and immediately removed. [1675(b)]
  • Ladders have no broken or defective rungs or side rails, and rungs are firmly attached to side rails. [1675(b)]
  • Ladders have no nails, screws, or splinters sticking out. [3278(c)]
  • Rungs have no oil or grease on them. [3278(e)(6) and 3279(d)(4)]
  • Non-slip safety feet or bases on ladders are in good condition.
  • Non-slip safety material on ladder rungs is in good condition.
  • Interiors of open end hollow rungs of metal ladders are free from corrosion. [1675(b)]


  • Unless there are stairways or ramps, ladders are provided at all points in frequently traveled passageways, entries, or exits where there is a break in elevation of 18 inches or more. [1629(a)(3)]
  • Ladders are used for access to working surfaces above or below ground level only on a short-duration job before installing a permanent means of access. [1629(a)(1)]
  • Ladders are used for access to Roof and attic work areas in wood frame buildings. [1629(b)(1)(B)]
  • Ladders are used for access to points above the highest floor that has been planked or decked in steel frame buildings. (Stairways should extend to the highest planked floor.) [1629(b)(2)]
  • Ladders are used for access to scaffolds. [1637(n)]
  • Ladders are used for access to levels in a vertical shoring system above the lowest floor in concrete buildings. (There must be at least two ladders in different locations for each floor, and ladders may not be used for more than three floors.) [1629(b)(3)]


  • Rungs are uniformly spaced no more than 12 inches apart vertically. [1676(c)]
  • Stepladders do not exceed 20 feet. [3278(d)(1)(A)]
  • Extension ladders do not exceed 44 feet when extended. [1678(a)]
  • Extension ladders are not used fully extended. There is an overlap between sections, not less than 10% of the working length of the ladder. [1678(b)]
  • Portable metal ladders are marked with a sign cautioning against use near electrical equipment. [3279(d)(11)]
  • Portable ladders purchased after July 1, 1992 are labeled as being in accordance with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards A 14.1 1982, Portable Wood Ladders, or A 14.2 1982, Portable Metal Ladders. [1675(c) and (d)]
  • No portable metal ladder is being used for electrical work, near live electrical parts, or within six feet of high voltage electrical lines. (Increase the distance for very high voltage). [1675(l), 2946, and 3279(d)(11)]
  • Double cleat ladders are used if there is 2-way traffic or traffic by 25 or more workers. (Double cleat ladders should not exceed 30 feet in length.) [1629(c)]
  • Single-rail ladders are prohibited on the site. [3276(a)(4)]
  • Short ladders are not spliced together to make a longer one. [3278(e)(13)]


  • Areas where ladders are placed are clear at the top and bottom, and are not greasy or muddy. [1675(e)]
  • Ladders are placed on firm dry ground, so they won’t slip or sink, and are not placed on boxes or other unstable bases. [1675(e)]
  • Ladders are not placed where they can be bumped (for example, a doorway, passageway, or driveway). Ladders which may be struck or displaced are barricaded or guarded. [1675(h)]
  • Portable ladders are tied, blocked, or otherwise secured. [1675(j)]
  • Portable ladders are placed 1 foot out from the wall for every 4 feet of ladder length (75° pitch). [1675(g)]
  • No one stands or works on the top three rungs of a ladder that has no handholds, unless the structure provides a firm handhold or the worker is tied off. [1675(k)]
  • Workers face a ladder while climbing and descending. [3276(a)(2)]
  • Stepladders are always opened fully.
  • Workers do not stand or work on the top (cap) of a stepladder, or the step below the cap. [1675(n)]
  • Planks are not placed on the top (cap) of a stepladder. [1675(f)]
  • Workers use a ladder one at a time unless the ladder is specially designed for more people. [3278(e)(8)]
  • Ladders are not used as guys, braces, skids, gin poles, or for other than their intended purpose. [3278(e)(15) and 3279(d)(10)]
  • Workers adjust extension ladders only when standing at the base, not while on or above the ladder. .
  • Ladders are placed so that side rails extend at least 3 feet above the landing or level they serve. [1629(c)(3)]
  • Workers do not carry tools, equipment, or materials (except on a tool belt) while on a ladder. [3276(a)(1)]