Ladders pose a risk of injury if not used, stored and maintained properly.

The basics

Using a ladder is much safer than balancing on boxes or chairs to gain height. But there's still a risk you could fall and be injured. Assemble any ladder correctly, make sure it is steady and use it safely.

Before you buy a ladder

  • Discuss what you'll use the ladder for with the retailer so they can advise the best ladder to meet your needs.
  • Check your ladder meets a relevant safety standard (AS/NZS 1892.1:1996 is the most common standard).
  • Ask the retailer to demonstrate how to use the ladder properly before you buy. Pay particular attention to features that indicate when hinges are locked.

How to use a ladder safely

  • Read the instructions carefully and practise opening and closing the ladder until you are confident that it is operating correctly and safely.
  • Check you have assembled the ladder correctly, and read the instructions for use:
    • Make sure all locking clips are secure.
    • A stepladder should have its 2 stay bars firmly in place.
  • If in doubt, don't use your ladder — go back to the retailer or seek professional advice.

Check the condition of your ladder

  • If it's rusty, parts are missing, or security bars or clips aren’t working properly, don't use it.
  • If parts are worn or not working properly, repair or replace them.
  • Tighten any loose bolts.

Make sure your ladder is steady

  • Stand the ladder on a firm, level base.
  • If the ground is uneven, use a suitable block or board to keep the ladder upright and stable.
  • Wear sturdy shoes, and don't use a ladder barefoot.
  • Lock any doors you're working around so no-one can open a door into your ladder and tip you over.

Keep away from live electricity

  • Keep metal ladders and metal parts well away from live electricity outlets.
  • Have your electricity retailer shut off the power if you need to work close to electric lines.
  • Remember, metal ladders and wooden ladders with metal parts conduct electricity.

Climbing and descending

  • Face the ladder when climbing and descending.
  • Don't use the top two steps of the ladder.
  • Have a helper hold the lower part of the ladder whenever possible.
  • Keep your body centred between the rails of the ladder at all times or you may lose your balance.
  • Move the ladder to continue a task — don't over reach.
  • Remember the “1 in 4” safety rule if you're leaning the ladder — the bottom should be 1 measure out for every 4 measures in height.
  • Maintain 3 points of contact when climbing up or down — use 2 hands and 1 foot, or 2 feet and 1 hand.

Storing your ladder

  • Before you put the ladder away, check that it's clean and dry.
  • Keep children safe — store your ladder away after use.
  • Keep your house safe — don't leave your ladder outside.

Reporting an issue with a ladder

If you have a safety problem or concern with a ladder, let us know.

Report an unsafe product

Under the Consumer Guarantees Act you can get a refund, replacement or compensation if goods are unsafe. The Consumer Protection website has more information about what to do when you have a problem with goods.

Consumer Protection website — Faulty products(external link)