Home DIY Essential Pre-Use Ladder Inspection Guide 

Essential Pre-Use Ladder Inspection Guide 


Do you visually inspect your ladder before using it? Ladders that are damaged or broken could collapse or break with you on them!

That’s why it’s vital that you perform a pre-use check every time you plan to work on a ladder – failure to do so could result in serious injury to you and those around you.

Amateur DIYers often underestimate the risk associated with using a ladder. That’s why we’ve put together this essential guide to visually inspecting a ladder.

1.    Check the feet 

The feet of a ladder, also referred to as the base, are located at the very bottom of the ladder, where it comes into contact with the ground.

As with our own feet, the feet of a ladder play a vital role in keeping it stable and preventing it from slipping.

Before using your ladder, ensure the feet are in top condition. Look out for:

  • Cracks or tears – Check the material is smooth and strong with no signs of breakage.

  • Excessive wear – Is the rubber uneven in places? Does it feel worn down?

  • Loose hardware – Wobbly or loose screws can loosen further when the ladder is in use, potentially causing the ladder to collapse.

  • Warping – If the base is deformed in any way, the ladder won’t be able to stand fully level on the ground.

  • Dirt or fluid – If the base of your ladder is wet from oil or other substances, it could slip beneath you. Additionally, if it’s caked in dirt you may not be able to position it level on the ground.

2.    Check the rungs/treads

The rungs/treads are another important part of a ladder; these are the horizontal bars or steps that your feet stand on when ascending and descending.

Most leaning ladders feature rungs, whereas step ladders will have treads, which are slightly deeper and provide more surface area for your feet.

Faulty or damaged rungs/treads could break or fall away as you climb, causing you to slip or fall. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Loose, uneven or missing rungs/treads
  • Rust, corrosion or excessive wear
  • Bent or warped rungs/treads
  • Dirt or slippery substances

3.    Check the stiles 

The stiles, sometimes referred to as rails, are the two vertical sides either side of the rungs/treads. These need to be sturdy and secure in order to provide structural support for the ladder. Make sure the stiles aren’t showing any of the following signs of damage:

  • Cracks
  • Bends
  • Rust
  • Dents or punctures
  • Loose components

4. Check the locking mechanisms 

If your ladder has more than one section, it will feature locking mechanisms that secure each section in place. Always make sure these are fully engaged before working on your ladder.

Additionally, if the locking mechanisms are faulty or damaged, the ladder could collapse beneath you.

5. Check the overall cleanliness 

If your ladder is covered in dirt, paint drips or any other materials, it’s best to give it a good clean to make sure there are no signs of damage hiding underneath.

If your ladder is painted and you notice a lot of the paint is peeling or cracking, this could also be hiding cracks and other signs of wear and tear. In this instance, it’s safer to use a different ladder.

Final thoughts

It’s extremely important that you take the safe use of your ladder seriously. If you do discover any of the above signs of damage when inspecting your ladder, do not continue to use it. 


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