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Safety Tips For Ladder Use
Regardless of the ladder types and grades you use, there are several best practices and safety tips to keep in mind. These tips cover best practices from ladder selection, inspection, set-up, and use.
Tips for ladder selection include:
Choose the proper length:
On most ladders, you cannot use the topmost rung. If using a stepladder or trestle ladder, make sure the second-highest step will give you access to what you need.
Close any gaps:
If using a straight ladder or extension ladder to climb up to a point where you will step off the ladder and onto a roof or structure, make sure the ladder extends at least a foot higher than the upper support point. If there is a gap between the top of the ladder and the step point, you run the risk of falling and incurring serious injuries.
When using an extension ladder, make sure the top of the ladder does not extend more than three feet beyond the upper support point. Excess overlap can act as a lever and cause the base of the ladder to swing out.
Tips for ladder inspection include:
Check before use:
Whether you last used your ladder a day ago or a year ago, you should inspect it before each use.
Check rubber feet:
The rubber covers on ladder feet are integral to proper slip prevention. Inspect them to ensure they are not cracked or worn down.
Clean ladder steps:
Excess grease or oil on ladder rungs may become a slip hazard. Clean any visible particles from the ladder steps to preserve traction.
Inspect a ladder's bolts, rivets, rail connections, and spreaders to ensure nothing is missing or broken.
Tips for ladder set-up include:
Choose an even surface:
To prevent your ladder from tilting or toppling, ensure all of its feet sit flat against even ground.
Choose proper proximity:
Position your ladder as close to the work area as possible. If you have to lean or strain to reach the work area, you may lose your balance and fall.
Choose an adequate ratio:
When using an extension or single ladders that require an upper support point, make sure to set up with a safe ladder angle. Aim for a 75-degree tilt with a 1:4 ratio. For example, if your ladder is 20 feet long, sit the ladder feet 5 feet away from the support point.
Tips for ladder use include:
Avoid climbing a ladder if you feel dizzy, faint, or sick. If something happens while you are on the ladder, you could fall and incur serious injuries.
To avoid falling, scale ladders slowly and wear clean, slip-resistant shoes. When descending, position your body toward the steps and hold the ladder sides with both hands.
It may be tempting to try to reach faraway spots while painting or working on a ladder. However, the safest posture on a ladder is to remain in the center of the steps.
Be sure to climb down before repositioning and ladder, and do so with care. Tall extension ladders may become top-heavy if moved quickly, so take your time and enlist help.
Use ladder accessories like utility buckets or tool belts to help store items while working on ladders. Attempting to ascend or descend a ladder while holding supplies could cause you to lose balance and fall.