Ladders are primarily a means of access and egress. When using a ladder:
(a) The working width and movement is limited;
(b) The time involved in moving and setting up ladders is often underestimated when planning work;
(c) The working position on ladders is often uncomfortable and may cause musculoskeletal disorders.

For these reasons, its selection, safe use and care should be followed.


This guidance is applicable to all Universityof Sydney's workplaces where ladders are generally used as a means of access and egress from a work area.

Table of Contents

  • Performance Standards
  • Procedures

Performance Standards

The following standards apply to all staff and students whether they are frequent or occasional users of ladders.
1. Must be selected to suit the task to be undertaken;
2. Use for the purpose it was designed for and within its specified capacity limits;
3. Ensure the ladder is maintained and used as intended;
4. Always seek instruction before using the ladder;
5. Report any damaged ladder and do not use it until it has been repaired;
6. Report all hazards, unsafe conditions and work practices


Selecting ladders

When selecting ladders, consider the duration of the task, the physical surroundings of where the task is to be undertaken and the prevailing weather conditions. Ladders should have a load rating of at least 120 kg and be manufactured for industrial use.

Positioning ladders

(a) Must be set up on a solid and stable surface, free from obstructions, to step onto from the ladder;
(b) Placed at a slope of 4:1 {angle that the horizontal distance from the foot of the ladder to the structure the ladder rests against};
(c) Ladder extends at least one (1) metre above the highest rung upon which the person must stand to work. If a height of one (1) metre cannot be achieved, then the ladder should reach as possible above the level at which the person is required to work;
(d) Secure ladder against displacement (i.e. slipping or sliding) and/or there is another person holding the base of the ladder;
(e) Ladders set up in public thoroughfares or other places must be provided with effective means to prevent the displacement of the ladder due to collisions, e.g. use of barricades or lock the door shut

Safe Use of Ladders

When a ladder us used, ensure:
- the ladder is in good condition - the ladder should be inspected for faults before it is used;
- damaged ladders are removed before it is used;
- the ladder is the correct height for the task to avoid over-reaching or stretching;
- materials or tools are not carried while climbing the ladder - use a tool belt or side pouch;
- only light duty work is undertaken while on the ladder, where three (3) points of contact can be maintained and tools can be operated safely with one hand;
- slip resistant base, rungs or steps are provided;
- slip resistant shoes are worn;
- only one person on the ladder at any time;
- always face the ladder when ascending or descending;
- do not climb higher than the third rung from the top of the ladder;
- ladders are not used without additional appropriate precautions:
(i) on scaffolding or an elevating work platform to get extra height;
(ii) next to power lines unless the person is trained and authorised and the appropriate ladder (e.g. fibreglass) is being used;
(iii) in very wet or windy conditions;
(iv) next to traffic areas, unless the working area is barricaded

Ladders Maintenance

Ladders should be regularly maintained by a competent person in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.
Ladders with the following faults must be replaced or repaired:
- stiles cracked, chipped, twisted, bent, kinked, crushed;
- rungs, steps, treads or top plates that are missing, worn, damaged or loose;
- missing, loose, bent or worn fasteners i.e. rivets, biolts, pins;
- worn or damaged feet, including non slip material