How to inspect ladders for safe use

Ladder inspection is important

We often get asked about the recommended way to inspect a ladder, check for damage and ensure that it is safe to use, so here is  a condensed, practical guide.

There are hundreds of people injured or killed in falls from ladders every year, most of which could be avoided with very little effort or cost, here’s how.

A visual inspection should be carried out every time before a ladder or step ladder is used. A formal inspection should be carried out on a regular basis and the ladder “tagged” to say that it has been checked and is safe to use, where a fault has been found the ladder should be marked, or tagged to indicate that it is NOT safe to use. You can simply use a parcel label to indicate the ladder is fit (or unfit) for purpose, but a better idea is to use a ladder inspection tag, these are permanent and show when a ladder was last inspected, when it is due to be inspected again and whether or not the ladder is considered safe to use.

Tag is permanently fitted (1), date ladder was inspected, and next inspection date marked on tag (2) IF there is a fault the tag is turned round to show that the ladder has been condemned and consider unsafe for use (3)

You can buy the item for professional / commercial use here

Ladder Stiles

The ladder stiles should not be dented, bent or have deep scratches that could harm the ladders integrity, any damage is a sign that the ladder has had a trauma and may mean that the ladder has been weaken and may bend or snap when in use.

Ladder Feet

The ladder should have a full set of feet, without cracks or missing parts, if a foot is missing it should be replaced before the ladder is used. Ladder feet can be replaced for a few pounds each, we supply replacement feet for our ladders. The ladder should be stable and level when rested on the ground. There are some after sale generic feet that can replace missing feet and increase the ladders grip on the ground, these are usually a suction cup, or sometimes have a flat base. These are available HERE

Kingfeet Suction cup, articulated feet shown here

Ladder rungs or treads

Missing, dented, bent, or splintered rungs or treads will weaken the ladder and make it unfit for purpose.

Ladder platforms

Check that the platform sits properly when step ladders are open, check that the platform support arm is not bent or missing, check that the rivets are intact, not split or missing; these are important to the ladders integrity.

Handrails and side braces

These should be securely fixed to the side of the ladder or steps, should be straight with no signs of fatigue.


Ladders should be free from paint, they can hide defects, wooden ladders can be treated with a clear varnish for protection, but it general it is strongle reccomended that ladders are not painted

Extension guides

The extension guides at the top of the ladder are a critical part of the ladders function, they should be fixed firmly in place without missing bolts or rivets, they should grip the other ladder sections firmly, but not too tight, tight enough to stop the other sections popping out. Some deploy a plastic guide too, to enable friction reduction, these are part of the good fit and should be present if provided by the manufacturer.

Safe working loads

Ensure that the ladder has a label attached confirming that it conforms to UK / EU regulations on certifications, the label is part of the certification and must be attached, there are several different categories for working loads, more information on that here

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