The simple safety step everyone should know

During Ladder Safety Month, learn the “belt buckle rule” and other tips for preventing painful falls.

posted March 06, 2019

Nearly every home and workplace has a ladder lying around someplace. So you’d think most people would know how to use them safely, right?

Wrong. Falls are one of the top three causes of serious workplace injuries, and ladders are a leading culprit.

Ladder Safety Month in March is a great time to make sure all employees are trained to use ladders properly. It’s also a good reminder to inspect ladders regularly and replace or repair any that are damaged or defective.

Here are some basic ladder dos and don’ts:

Do make sure you have the right ladder for the job. Don’t use boxes, milk crates, chairs, or similar items in place of a ladder.

Do inspect ladders before each use. Don’t use a broken ladder.

Do set up a ladder on a stable, level surface. Open stepladders fully and engage the locking mechanism. Secure the ladder, if necessary, to prevent movement.

Don’t use a stepladder as a straight ladder.

Do maintain three points of contact (both feet and one hand, or both hands and one foot) when climbing. Don’t carry tools in your hands when climbing. (Wear a tool belt, or haul them up with a rope.)

Do keep your mid-section centered between the side rails. This is called the “belt buckle rule.” (Watch the video.)

Don’t stand on the cap or top rung of a stepladder, or on the top three rungs of an extension ladder. (Make sure extension ladders extend at least 3 feet past the step-off.)

Do wear slip-resistant footwear and keep the ladder free of mud and grease. Don’t use a ladder if you are light-headed, dizzy, on medication, fatigued, or otherwise impaired.

To learn more about preventing slips, trips, and falls, visit


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