Thursday, April 23, 2015

10 Safety Tips for Using a Ladder


Do you use ladders often around the house?  Maybe you're a handyman (or handywoman) yourself and ladders are a regular tool that you use.  Do you think about ladder safety when you use them?  I know it can be easy for some to take ladders for granted, but the simple fact is that improper use of step ladders and extension ladders cause many injuries.  In an effort to create awareness for safety on the job or around the house, the following guidelines will help you use a ladder safely:

  1. Don't use aluminum ladders around energized lines or equipment.  Use a ladder made of a non-conductive material such as fiberglass.
  2. Inspect your ladder before each use.  Look for any missing, loose, or cracked parts.  If the ladder is not in good condition, do not use it!  This is how many accidents happen.
    Step Ladder Parts
  3. Always place an extension ladder at the proper angle.  It is suggested that you place the ladder so that the bottom of the ladder is about one-fourth the vertical height from the structure it is up against (1:4 ratio).
  4. The ladder should extend at least 3 feet above the top support when placed against a structure that is not as tall as the ladder (for example, a roof).  Since ladder rungs are approximately 12 inches apart, a good practice would be to make sure there are at least 3 rungs of the ladder above the roof.
    Proper Angle for a Ladder
  5. Set ladders on firm footing and tie them off where possible.  Avoid shimming the ladder up with rocks, boards, etc.
  6. Use the 3-Point Rule.  When climbing up or down, make sure you have three points of contact with the ladder all the time (either 2 hands & 1 foot, or 1 hand & 2 feet).  Make sure you are facing the ladder while climbing also! 
  7. Make sure to open a step ladder up all the way and lock the spreaders in place.
  8. Keep hands free of tools while going up or down.  Tools and materials can be pulled up with a rope.
  9. The top two rungs are not for standing on a step ladder.  Standing on them may cause the ladder to fall, resulting in serious injury to you.
  10. Do not leave materials or tools on top of a step ladder.  They can fall off and injure someone.
Ladder to the Sky

While safety requires personal responsibility in more ways than this, these guidelines will help you remain safe while using ladders and, hopefully, help create a safety culture in the way you #DIY!  For more information on #safety, be looking for my upcoming post on PPE (personal protective equipment)!