Often we think we know how to use a ladder correctly – you’ve used one ladder…you’ve used them all…right?? Not so. Different ladders require different considerations and safety measures! One of the most common household injuries happens due to improper ladder usage. So let’s review some ladder do’s and don’ts.
- Always select the correct ladder for your task. That’s one that extends at least 3 feet over the roofline or working surface which may entail a step or extension ladder. Only use a ladder for its intended purpose. And follow the ladder’s instruction labels.
- Always be sure to place your ladder on level and firm ground. If the ground or surface is soft or uneven use leg levelers under the ladder, which you can buy at a hardware or home improvement store.
- Check the ladder’s maximum load rating and make sure the ladder can support both your weight and the load you are putting on it.
- Make sure your straight and adjustable/extension ladders have slip-resistant feet.
- Set up straight, single or extension ladders at about a 75–degree angle. Test whether or not you have the correct angle by standing up straight with your toes touching the feet of the ladder as it leans away from you. Extend your arms in front of you. Your palms should touch the top of the rung that’s at shoulder level.
- Make sure all rung locks and spreader braces are set on your ladder (see diagram).
- Have a helper hold the bottom of any ladder, especially adjustable and extension ladders.
- Center your body between the rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to one side while working as it can cause you to fall. If you are wearing a belt the buckle should never be outside of the right or left rail of the ladder.
- Don’t use any type of metal ladder near power lines or electrical equipment or during an electrical storm. Metal ladders conduct electricity. In these situations wood or fiberglass ladders should be used along with use extra caution. And no ladder should ever touch a live electric wire.
- Avoid using ladders near doors that can be opened. If the work must be performed near a door rope off the door or place a sign on the door warning others not to open the door.
- Only one person should be on a ladder at a time.
- Read the ladder’s instructions careful for information about the highest rung that you can stand on. As a rule do not stand on the top three rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
- Stay off of the ladder’s top step and bucket shelf. Labels on ladders warn you not to stand on them as well. Don’t try to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.
- Always put away the ladder when you are done with it and never leave a raised ladder unattended.
For more safety tips check out the post on Proper Dress & Safe Tool Operation