Ladder-related injuries among men aged 65 and older are steadily increasing in Australia.

Over 1,000 Queenslanders are hospitalised each year after ladder falls, and most of these injuries happen around the home.

On average 4.5 Australians, mainly men, die each year after falling from a ladder. Most men injured or killed after falling from a ladder were at or nearing retirement age and were doing maintenance around the home.

Ladder safety matters

‘Ladder safety matters’ is a national education campaign that encourages older Australian men to stop and think before they use a ladder. It’s often the split-second decision or risky shortcut that results in a fall.

Watch this clip or visit our Youtube channel to hear personal accounts of how ladder falls changed lives, as well as safety tips from Dr Owen Roodenburg, Head of the Trauma Intensive Care Unit at The Alfred Hospital.

Duration 01:52

Safety first tips

Stay safe when using a ladder by following these steps.

Step 1—choose a safe ladder

Only buy a ladder if it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1892). The ladder should be labelled, but ask the retailer if you’re not sure.

Step 2—follow all safety instructions

Always follow:

  • the instructions on the packaging or manual
  • any safety warnings on the ladder.

Before using a ladder, make sure it:

  • is the right height for the job
  • has non-slip feet
  • hasn’t warped, rusted or corroded
  • isn’t missing any parts
  • sits on flat, firm ground
  • locks securely into place.

Step 3—check for unsafe conditions

Make sure there are no power lines or exposed wires near the ladder.

Never use ladders in thunderstorms, rain or wind.

Step 4—set it up safely

Lean the ladder against a wall at a vertical to horizontal ratio of 4:1. This means that if the ladder is 4m tall, place the foot of the ladder 1m from the wall.

Secure the top of an extension ladder into position before starting work.

Step 5—climb it safely

When climbing on a ladder, always:

  • wear enclosed, non-slip shoes
  • have someone hold the ladder at the base
  • climb up the middle of the ladder
  • hold it with both hands
  • carry any tools in a tool belt
  • ensure you never stand on the tread immediately below the top cap.

Step 6—work safely

When working on a ladder, always:

  • keep hold of the ladder with one hand
  • work within arm’s reach of the ladder (don’t lean over)
  • climb down and safely reposition the ladder if you need to reach something.

Step 7—work to your ability

Know your own capabilities. Be careful about climbing a ladder if you:

  • are alone and can’t get help
  • have a disability or medical condition
  • are taking medication.