Step ladders must only be used for short duration activities – a working platform is the preferred method for working at a height.
Where the work at height assessment indicates that a step ladder is the best choice, then before using it, check it to make sure that it has no defects and that it is tall enough for the job. Regularly inspect step ladders and keep them maintained – look out for damaged stiles and cracked or missing rungs. Make sure that it is suitable for heavy use. Ladders that are designed for light domestic use, must not be used for general work. Metal step ladders should not be used when carrying out work on electrical circuits or apparatus.
Step ladders require careful use, as they are not designed for any degree of side loading, so avoid heavy and awkward tasks. Do not erect a step ladder on a sloping surface, a movable object, an unstable surface or in front of a door that may be opened.
Always use them at right angles to the work, with the styles fully extended and don't overreach. Do not use the top step unless it has been designed for that purpose and has a wider platform and grab rail. When working on a step ladder follow these simple rules:
Podium steps offer a safer alternative to step ladders; as they have a wider base, and a rigid stable working platform with barriers to prevent falls. They also allow work to be done in any direction, and two handed. They are usually made from aluminium and have a ‘snap click’, or fold out assembly, with slide-in handrails that provide a four-sided ‘cage’ to work in.