Scope: This program applies to the use of all ladders and step stools used by NC State employees. It does not apply to mobile or stationary elevated or elevating work platforms, or scaffolds, except where ladders are used for access.


Requirements for All Ladders:

  • Inspect ladders when first used each shift, or more frequently if needed, for visible defects.
  • Any ladder with a structural defect shall be immediately taken out of service and tagged “Dangerous: Do Not Use” or similar.
  • Wooden ladders shall not be coated with substances that obscure damage or defects.
  • Metal ladders are corrosion resistant
  • Ladder surfaces shall be free of puncture and laceration hazards.
  • Ladders shall only be used in the manner for which they were designed.
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down.
  • Always keep at least one hand in contact with the ladder at all times
  • Never carry anything on a ladder that could cause the user to lose balance
  • Non-skid treads on rolling ladders and stepstools must be maintained
  • Job-Made wooden ladders should not be used by NC State employees

Portable Ladder Requirements:

  • Ensure ladders meet the height and capacity requirements of the task.
  • Always use a ladder as it was intended. A-frame, ladders must be spread and locked, never leaned against a surface.
  • Don’t stand on the spreaders, or back rungs, of an A-frame ladder. Some A-frame ladders have steps on both sides.
  • If using a straight ladder to climb to a higher surface, extend it at least three feet above the surface and secure it to a rigid structure at the top.
  • Use a straight ladder at the proper angle. The horizontal distance from the top to the foot should be approximately one-quarter the working length of the ladder.
  • Make sure extension ladders are properly locked when extended.
  • Make sure ladders are positioned on a solid surface, are stable, and the steps are horizontal.
  • Never use an aluminum or conductive ladder for electrical work.
  • Always maintain three points of contact on a ladder. Use a tool belt or pull a bucket up to keep your hands free for climbing and stability.
  • Keep your torso within the rails of a ladder. Don’t lean over.
  • Never allow more than one person on a ladder, unless it is designed for two people.
  • Do not stand on the top of a ladder, or on the top step
  • Secure or barricade portable ladders used in passageways, doorways, driveways, or other locations where the ladder might be displaced by others.
  • Ladders shall not be tied or bolted together or set up on boxes, barrels, or other unstable bases to obtain extra height.
  • The top of a non-self-supporting ladder shall be supported on both rails unless using a single support attachment.


Requirements for Fixed ladders

  • Shall be affixed with a personal fall protection system, such as a ladder safety system, ladder-climbing system, or climbing fall arrest system, if the fall hazard is greater than 24 ft. This is regardless of the height of the ladder itself. Cages and wells are not considered to be fall protection.
    • A personal fall protection system including a full-body harness, lanyard, and connectors is required for using a ladder-climbing system
    • Fall Prevention training, is required for using a ladder-climbing system and personal fall protection system.
  • Foot clearance behind the ladder shall be at least 7 inches, except for elevator pit ladders which shall be at least 4.5 inches.
  • The side rails of through or sidestep ladders shall extend at least 42 inches above the top of the access level or landing platform.
  • Above the access level or landing platform, the side rails of through ladders shall be 24-30 inches. If a ladder-climbing system is provided, the side rails shall not be less than 36 inches apart. 
  • Clearance on the climbing side of a fixed ladder shall be at least 24 inches. A deflector shall be used for climbing side clearance less than 30 inches. 


  • Ladder Safety Awareness – EHPS-OS408 -REQUIRED- is a 20-minute online training course for ladder users. It describes various types of ladders and the requirements for their use. It also addresses common ladder hazards and provides guidance on inspections and use.
  • Fall Prevention – EHPS-OS302 -REQUIRED- This is an instructor-led course on fall hazard recognition, fall prevention, and fall protection. This course is required for anyone exposed to a fall hazard greater than four feet, uses a Mobile Elevated Work Platform or ladder safety system, or who is required to wear personal protective equipment for fall hazards.