Ladder Safety: Basic Rules on How to use a Ladder Safely

Knowing how to safely use a Ladder whilst getting on and off your roof is a key factor in preventing a fall from a ladder and most importantly, avoiding serious injury.

Below are some basic rules and helpful tips to ensure you are using your ladder safely.

Make sure you have the right ladder for the job

Ladders come in different sizes with different load capacities so always ensure you have the right ladder for the job.

Assess the height you need to reach along with the surrounding environment before selecting a ladder.  Different types of ladders on the market include:

  • Straight ladders
  • Extension ladders
  • Step ladders
  • Platform ladders
  • Trestle ladders

If you plan on leaning a ladder on the gutter to get up on your roof then I always prefer to use a straight ladder or an extension ladder depending on the height of the roof.

Close the gap!

If you’re getting up on your roof you want to ensure there is no gap from the ladder up to the roof.  Therefore, ensure the ladder you select can extend at least 3ft (or close to 1m) past the edge of the roof as the higher up the easier and safer it will be to get from the ladder onto the roof.

Inspect the ladder before and after using it

Before using a ladder ensure you check over it to make sure it’s in good working order. Key things to look for include:

  • Broken or damaged ladder rungs;
  • Any structural damage to the side rails or ladder supports;
  • Check for any loose screws, nuts, or bolts on the ladder;
  • Check the rugs for any sand, dirt, or any other materials that could make you slip when standing on them.  I always like to give the rungs of my Ladders a wipe down before using the ladder;
  • If the ladder has a pully type system (common with two-storey ladders) ensure this is in good working order before standing up the ladder;

Set up your ladder correctly

  • Ensure your ladder is on firm ground minimising the chance of it moving;
  • Do not set up the ladder on any unstable objects such as barrels or boxes;
  • Use the likes of a ladder gutter guard which hangs off the gutter and sits between the gutter and your ladder to prevent the ladder from slipping along the edge of the gutter;
  • Check and wipe down the rungs of your ladder to ensure there is nothing that could make you slip when you walk up the ladder;
  • When setting up the ladder, check for any hazardous objects such as overhead electrical wires;
  • Ensure the area you’re setting up the ladder is free from clutter so you can easily access and exit the ladder without tripping up on anything.

Can you lean a ladder on gutters?

The little ladder helper

Yes, you can lean ladders directly on to gutters, however I wouldn’t recommend it. If you plan to lean your ladder on your gutter then ensure you use some type of gutter protection device.

Personally, I really like the a product called the “little ladder helper” featured in the photo above.

This is great for not only stopping your gutters from getting scratched by the ladder, though it also minimises the chance of your ladder slipping sideways along the gutter.

Climbing up and down your ladder

  • When climbing the ladder always use two hands to ensure three points of contact;
  • Always stay in the middle of your ladder and do not lean sideways which could cause your ladder to fall;
  • Never carry your tools in your hands when on a ladder, always use a toolbelt or if available, a hoist for your tools;
  • Never have two people on a ladder at the same time;
  • Before climbing, be aware of your surroundings. Look out for the likes of powerlines or anything nearby that could be a threat.

Other things to consider

  • Never use the ladder other than what it’s meant for.  For example, do not use your ladder as a horizontal platform to work from;
  • Never stand on the top rung or the top cap of the ladder as this will make it very unstable;
  • If someone is on a ladder, never attempt to move the ladder with the person on the ladder.


I hope you found these ladder safety tips helpful.  If there is something within this article you feel I should have covered, please let me know and I’ll get onto it straight away!

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