Accident Advisory: Worker fell from ladder

14 May 2020

Ref No.: 140520 (1)

UEN: S97SS0046G

Dear Valued ASPRI Members,

Accident Advisory: Worker fell from ladder

Ref: 1920108 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 12 March 2020

On 6 March 2020, a renovation worker was at a private dwelling to patch the ceiling. He was later found on the floor lying on an A-frame ladder which had toppled. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he passed away.


Persons in control of similar workplaces and work activities such as employers, principals and contractors are advised to consider the following risk control measures to prevent similar accidents:

Select a good ladder

  • Provide ladders that are of good construction and structural integrity. The use of ladders built according to Singapore Standard SS EN 131: 2019 Ladders (or any other internationally recognised standard) is strongly recommended.
  • Ensure workers select ladders that are in good condition and fit for purpose. Ladders that are damaged or contain loose or missing parts should never be used. Workers must inform their supervisors whenever they spot any damaged ladder.

Safe use of ladders

  • Inspect the ladder for visible defects before each use. The ladder should also be free from oil, grease and/or other slipping hazards.
  • Set up and use the ladder on firm, level and stable ground. Do not set up a ladder near doorway or window. If you really need to use a ladder near one, lock the door (except when it is a fire exit) or window.
  • Make sure the ladder used is of the correct height, so that the designated work area can be accessed without the need to stand on the top rung of the ladder.
  • Check that the spreaders are locked in place prior to using the ladder.
  • Use proper footwear.
  • Always face the ladder and maintain three points of contact while using the ladder. Consider the use of a tool belt or side pouch to contain any required tools so that both hands can be kept free for ascending and descending the ladder.

Safe means of access

  • Consider the use of step platforms (see Figure 2) as these offer a more stable work surface for safer access and work. Ladders serve primarily as means of access to work areas and should only be used for low-risk and short-duration tasks. Step ladders will allow workers to work safely for a longer duration.

Risk Assessment

Employers, principals and contractors are required to conduct a thorough Risk Assessment (RA) to manage any foreseeable risk that may arise for all work activities that involve the use of ladders. The RA should address, but not limited to, the following areas:

Possibility of falling off a ladder
Falling from a ladder can result in serious injuries (e.g. head injuries) that could be life-threatening. To prevent falls from a ladder, provide proper footwear, educate workers on the importance of three-point contact, and secure the ladder where possible (e.g. by securing the base of the ladder to prevent slipping and/or by tying the ladder to a suitable fixture).

Worker’s health condition
Allow only workers who are fit for work and feeling well to use ladders.

Further Information

  1. Workplace Safety and Health Act 
  2. Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations
  3. Workplace Safety and Health (Work at Heights) Regulations 2013 
  4. Workplace Safety and Health (Construction) Regulations 2007
  5. Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations
  6. Code of Practice on Working Safely at Heights 
  7. Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management
  8. Singapore Standard SS EN 131: 2019 Ladders
    • Part 1: Terms, types, functional sizes
    • Part 2: Requirements, testing, marking
    • Part 3: Marking and user instructions
    • Part 4: Single or multiple hinge-joint ladders
    • Part 6: Telescopic ladders
    • Part 7: Mobile ladders with platform
  9. WSH Council’s Ladder Safety Pack 
  10. WSH Council’s Activity Based Checklist on Safe Use of Ladders

Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at 17 April 2020. This may be subject to change as investigations are still on-going. Please also note that the recommendations provided here are not exhaustive and they are meant to enhance workplace safety and health so that a recurrence may be prevented. The information and recommendations provided are not to be construed as implying any liability on any party nor should it be taken to encapsulate all the responsibilities and obligations under the law.