In DGUV Publication 208-016, the German statutory accident insurance scheme, DGUV, provides a wealth of useful information on "Using ladders and stepladders".
This DGUV Publication is aimed at individuals who work with ladders and stepladders on an everyday basis - as well as at the owners of these companies. It provides an overview of the requirements that need to be met issued by the national government and the German employers' liability insurance associations. It also covers the topics of inspections, maintenance and cleaning as well as transportation and storage.
Mobile ladders and stepladders are used in two different ways. On the one hand, they are used to access a workplace higher up. On the other, they constitute the actual workplace itself. Before such usage, a risk assessment needs to be carried out to determine whether a ladder or stepladder is suitable to get the job done - and if so, which type. This DGUV Publication explicitly points out that it is particularly important to take the risk of falling into account when assessing the risks.
Due to the high accident risk when using a mobile ladder or stepladder, alternative ways of accessing the areas concerned are also listed. These include:
If the above alternatives prove not to be feasible, a ladder may be used to provide access up to a height of 5 m - without any restrictions. Above a height of 5 m, a ladder may only be used to provide access if only used on very rare occasions.
When used to work from, a ladder or stepladder may be used for an unlimited period of time up to a height of 2 m as long as the user stands on a pedestal, platform or step whilst carrying out the work. The ladder may not be used as a workplace if this requires the user to work from the rungs.
At a height of between 2 m and 5 m, the same specifications apply with regard to the where the user needs to stand - but coupled with a time limit of maximum two hours. Above 5 m, a ladder may not be used to work from.
In addition to actually using a ladder, this Publication also describes what needs to be observed when making a ladder available, how the user is to be instructed with regard to using the ladder, as well as information on its transport, maintenance and how to inspect it. The Appendix also contains a sample checklist for inspecting a ladder or stepladder.