Incident Lessons Learned: Ladder Near Miss Incident

Building a Culture of Care includes following safety best practices and stopping unsafe actions.

19 April 2024


A U of A worker (worker 1) was standing on the top rung of a 12 ft ladder to access a control valve assembly while another worker (worker 2) held the ladder for support. Worker 1 asked worker 2 to undertake another task requiring him to move away from the ladder. Worker 2 then heard a noise and observed that the ladder had fallen and worker 1 was now hanging from the ceiling. Worker 2 immediately repositioned the ladder and requested that worker 1 resume the work from a lower point on the ladder. Despite this, worker 1 decided to complete the work while standing on the top rung of the ladder. 

Although both workers had completed a ladder safety training course the work proceeded with the ladder being used in an unsafe manner.


Falls from ladders can be very serious. The university has responded to falls from ladders where workers have been injured requiring hospitalization, rehabilitation and time away from work. There have also been significant impacts on the workers’ personal lives.

Culture of Care

The Culture of Care calls for all employees to take responsibility for their own safety and that of others, which includes stopping unsafe actions. Bringing an unsafe activity to the attention of a worker is not enough. An effective safety culture only exists if workers are willing to act and stop unsafe actions.

Call to Action

All work using ladders requires proper training and the use of an appropriate ladder for the task at hand. If you use a ladder for work, please take the following actions:

  1. Review the Ladder Safety Guidelines and verify you are using ladders correctly. Make changes to your procedures to align with the guidelines.
  2. Make sure you have the appropriate ladder for the job. It should be secured, able to reach the work, and be safe to climb up and down. Check that it meets CSA standards (contact HSE at if you need assistance).
  3. Take a ladder safety training course. Options for training are included in the Ladder Safety Training Bulletin.
  4. If you see something dangerous, say something and stop the activity.
  5. Always report incidents and near-miss incidents in ARISE

If you are not certain about using ladders properly, speak to your supervisor and/or contact HSE at for assistance.

The University of Alberta is committed to the safety, health and well-being of our faculty, staff and students. Every day, we advance this commitment to safety through the Culture of Care.