Hazards Associated With Stepladders, Trestles, & Staging & Safety Precautions

Hazards Associated With Stepladders, Trestles, & Staging & Safety Precautions

Stepladders, Trestles, And Staging

Many of the points discussed for ladders apply to stepladders and trestles, where stability and overreaching are the main hazards.

The supervisor must check all equipment before use to ensure that there are no defects and must be checked weekly by the user(s) whilst in use on-site. If a defect is noted or the equipment is damaged, it must be taken out of use immediately. Competent persons must only carry out any repairs. Supervisors must also check that the equipment is being used correctly and not used where a safer method should be provided.

Where staging, such as a ‘Youngman’s’ staging platform, is being used in roof areas, supervisors must ensure that only experienced operatives are permitted to carry out this work and that all necessary safety harnesses and anchorage points are provided used.

Stepladders, Trestles, And Staging
(a) Ladder tied at top style (correct for working on, not for access); (b) tying part-way down; (c) tying near the base; (d) securing at base

Hazards Associated With Stepladders, Trestles, And Staging

The main hazards associated with stepladders, trestles, and staging are: 

  • unsuitable base (uneven or loose materials); 
  • unsafe and incorrect use of equipment (e.g., the use of staging for barrow ramps); 
  • overloading; 
  • use of equipment where a safer method should be provided;
  • the overhang of boards or staging at supports (‘trap ends’); 
  • use of defective equipment.

Safety Precautions For Stepladders and Trestles

Stepladders and trestles must be:

  • manufactured to a recognized industrial specification; 
  • stored and handled with care to prevent damage and deterioration; 
  • subject to a program of regular inspection (there should be a marking, coding, or tagging system to confirm that the inspection has taken place); 
  • checked by the user before use; 
  • taken out of use if damaged – and destroyed or repaired; 
  • used on a secure surface and with due regard to ensuring stability at all times; 
  • Kept away from overhead cables and similar hazards.

The small platform fitted at the top of many stepladders is designed to support tools, paint pots, and other working materials. It should not be used as a workplace unless the stepladder has been constructed with a suitable handhold above the platform. Stepladders must not be used if they are too short for the work being undertaken or if there is not enough space to open them out fully. If, when on a stepladder, two hands need to be free for a brief period of light work (e.g., changing a light bulb), keep two feet on the same step, and the knees and chest supported by the stepladder maintain three points of contact. 

Platforms based on trestles should be fully boarded, adequately supported (at least one support for each 1.5 m of the board for standard scaffold boards), and provided with edge protection when there is a risk of falling a distance liable to cause injury.


ladder safety wrong way
  • Stepladder too short 
  • Hazard overhead 
  • Over-reaching up and sideways 
  • No grip on the ladder 
  • Sideways-on to work 
  • Foot on handrail 
  • Wearing slippers 
  • Loose tools on the ladder 
  • Slippery and damaged steps 
  • Uneven soft ground 
  • Damaged stiles 
  • Non-slip rubber foot missing

Right Way

ladder safety right way
  • Steps at the right height 
  • No need to over-reach 
  • Good grip on the handrail 
  • Working front-on 
  • Wearing good flat shoes 
  • Clean undamaged steps 
  • Firm-level base 
  • Undamaged stiles 
  • Rubber non-slip feet all in position 
  • Meets British or European standards

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