Smart Steps to Ladder Safety

Smart Steps to Ladder Safety

Man on a ladder

Ladder-related injuries result in thousands of trips to the ER each year. Avoid becoming a statistic by taking extra care with ladders. 

Whether you're cleaning out gutters, painting a ceiling or hanging holiday lights, these pointers can help you stay safer.

  • Choose the right ladder for the job. "Purchase a ladder that gives you the height you need," says Janet Rapp, executive director of the American Ladder Institute . Extension ladders must extend three feet above the work surface. For safety, users must not step on the top two steps of a step ladder. Also check the ladder's Duty Rating, which must be greater than your weight and that of your supplies. Additionally, if you'll be working near electrical wires, steer clear of aluminum ladders, which conduct electricity. Choose wood or fiberglass instead.
  • Perform regular inspections. Look for cracks, dents and loose, damaged or missing hardware. Another red flag: Your ladder leans to one side when you set it up. Refer to this ladder inspection checklist for a step-by-step list of how to perform an inspection.
  • Maintain your balance. Overreaching is a common user error, according to Rapp. "The middle of your belt buckle should be centered between the side rails," she says. "Don't reach too far to the left or right, because it could cause an imbalance." Rapp urges people to adhere to the Three Points of Contact climbing rule: Always keep two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder. And, if your work area is just out of reach, always climb down and reposition the ladder to a closer point.

Visit to view a multimedia training program about ladder safety, choosing the right ladder and ladder care.


State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates) is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites hyperlinked from this page. State Farm has no discretion to alter, update, or control the content on the hyperlinked, third party site. Access to third party sites is at the user's own risk, is being provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any of the products which may be referenced on such third party sites.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.