Ladders and stepladders are not banned under health and safety law. They are an everyday tool in homes and workplaces across the world, allowing millions of people to work at height quickly and easily. 

They can be a sensible and practical option for low-risk and short-duration tasks, although they should not automatically be your first choice.

The law says that ladders can be used for work at height when an assessment of the risk for carrying out a task has shown that using equipment offering a higher level of fall protection is not justified because of the low risk and short duration of use, or there are existing workplace features which cannot be altered.

Short duration is not the deciding factor in establishing whether use of a ladder is acceptable – you must have first considered risk. As a guide, if your task would require staying up a leaning ladder or stepladder for more than 30 minutes at a time, it is recommended you use alternative equipment.

You should only use ladders in situations where they can be used safely, eg where the ladder will be level and stable, and can be secured (where it is reasonably practicable to do so).

If a ladder is the most appropriate piece of equipment for the job, you must make sure that you use the right type of ladder and that you know how to use it safely. To use a ladder, you must be competent or, if you are being trained, you should be working under the supervision of a competent person.

More information on ladder safety, ladder standards and approved ladder training can be found by clicking the links on the right.