About ladders

Ladders are a common piece of equipment used around the home in DIY projects such as gutter cleaning and putting up decorations. 

Ladders are available in a variety of heights and materials.

There are 2 main types of ladders.

  • A-frame ladders – look like the letter A when set up, and support themselves. They are also called step ladders.
  • Extension ladders – rest on a support so they’re on an angle and gravity holds them up.

Things to look for when buying the product

Serious injuries and deaths have happened to people using ladders in an unsafe way, or using the wrong ladder for the type of job or home project being undertaken. While there isn’t a mandatory standard for ladders in Australia, there are some things to look out for when buying a ladder.

Firstly, consider whether you should buy a ladder. If you’re an older person or a person living with disability, you may be eligible for assistance with home maintenance from your local council or another agency.

When you do buy a ladder:

  • check the weight capacity of the ladder
  • make sure the ladder is the right height and design for the jobs you’re likely to use it for.

How to use the product safely

It’s often the split-second decision or risky shortcut that results in a fall. Follow these tips when using a ladder.

What to do

  • Read the safety warnings on the ladder and follow the manufacturer’s advice.
  • Choose the right ladder for the job.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes.
  • Take time to set up your ladder on a firm, flat surface and lock the spreaders.
  • Have another person hold the ladder.
  • Keep your body centred between the side rails.
  • Know your limits and work to your ability.

What not to do

  • Don’t work in wet or windy conditions.
  • Don’t stand above the second step from the top on a step ladder or the third rung on an extension ladder.
  • Don’t over-reach.

Ladder safety videos

These videos tell stories of people who've fallen from ladders.

Risks and injuries from the product

If the ladder isn’t in good condition or is used in an unsafe way, falls can occur and cause fractured limbs, spinal cord damage, severe brain injury or death.

On average more than 30 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.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that in the 2 years of 2021 and 2022:

  • 66 people died in ladder accidents
  • 97% of deaths were men.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports in the financial year to 30 June 2022:

  • more than 6,200 people were hospitalised due to ladder falls. Nearly 80% of these were men
  • 40% of people hospitalised were 65 years or older
  • nearly 80% of people hospitalised were 45 years or older.

Next steps if a product is unsafe

When buying a product, consumers have the right to expect the product is of acceptable quality. Acceptable quality means the product is safe, durable and free from defects.

If you bought a product that is unsafe, you can report it.

If a person is seriously injured or needs urgent medical help, call emergency services on triple zero (000).

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