How to use roof ladders

Working on a roof comes with dangers, making it vitally important that anyone who is doing roof work, whether they are a homeowner, maintenance worker, or a professional roofer, adhere to roof safety procedures and use the correct roof safety equipment. Before using a roof ladder, you should have considered whether there is any other practical way the work could be done without having to work at height. Any work at height is a risk, and to work on a roof safely, roof safety systems must always be used.

What is a roof ladder?

A roof ladder is simply a ladder that is suspended with a ridge hook at the top which rests against the opposite side of a pitched roof. The ladder is supported by bearers underneath the climbing face of the ladder, and they also ensure that there is suitable distance between the ladder and the roof to give a firm hand and foot hold. A roof ladder is not to be used as a leaning ladder or bridge. These types of ladders are designed to be used on a sloping roof and so they must not be used on flat roofs or those very steeply pitched.

Putting a roof ladder safely in place and accessing it

Typically, a leaning ladder will be used so the roof ladder can be carried onto the roof. There are 4 main factors to consider when setting up your leaning ladder:

1) The ground or surface the leaning ladder will be resting on, it needs to be stable, firm, and strong enough to securely support the ladder when weight is applied, so that its rungs or steps stay straight when you are using it.

2) The ladder needs to be prevented from slipping by securing it at or near its top or bottom, for example by fastening it with a good rope or an anti-slip or other stability device.

3) The ladder has to be long enough to extend above the roof ladder by 3 rungs as this will provide a good handhold when getting onto the roof ladder.

4) The ladder should lean at an angle of 75 degrees to the ground.


To safely put the ladder into position you should first, if you’re using an adjustable length roof ladder, ensure it is the correct length before taking it up the leaning ladder.

As you ascend the leaning ladder, take hold of the roof ladder near the top, ideally by the second or third rungs where it feels like it is well balanced.

Then carry the roof ladder up to eaves level and use the running wheels to push the ladder up onto the roof before flipping it over onto its bearers.

Next you should make sure the roof/ridge hook is securely located against the opposite side of the pitched roof. Also, to give you added safety, secure the roof ladder to the leaning ladder to create a complete ‘system’. Some other good ideas for extra safety measures are restraint harnesses and running lines.

Accessing the roof

It is essential that you take extra care when getting on and off the roof ladder. Be sure to have a firm grip on the leaning ladder before you attempt to get on or off the roof ladder.

You should go up and down the roof ladder by crawling and gripping the rungs with your hands NOT the stiles. Make sure you have a good foothold on the rungs and be careful not to stand on the roof surface.

Keep your hands free when climbing up and down the ladder, you should use an appropriate tool belt and don’t overload the ladder with tools or materials etc.


Roof ladders are an effective way to gain safe and secure access to a roof for any user. Find out more about the roof ladders we have available at BPS today and grab yourself a great deal.

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