Even the thought of climbing a ladder can be scary for some people. The potential for falls and serious injury is high. Safety on ladders is an essential part of the overall safety of our jobsites. We must be sure to follow ladder safety precautions.
Choose the Right Ladder
Using the wrong ladder can be dangerous. Think about the task at hand, choose the right size and style, and be sure to follow the directions on the ladder before you climb. Some things to consider:
- How high do you need to reach?
- How much weight will the ladder need to hold?
- Is it an indoor or outdoor job? Step Ladder or Extension Ladder?
- Remember that the top two steps of a ladder cannot be used as a step so make sure your ladder is tall enough for the task that you are doing
Start with a Firm Foundation
No matter what kind of ladder you’re using, place the base on a firm, solid surface and avoid slippery, wet or soft surfaces.
- If you must put the ladder on a soft surface, place a board under the ladder’s feet
- Never lean a straight or extension ladder against a window pane or other unstable surface
- A straight or extension ladder should be placed 1 foot away from the surface it’s resting on for every 4 feet of the ladder’s height
- Securely fasten straight or extension ladders to an upper support
- Make sure step ladders are open completely before climbing
- Guard doorways near any type of ladder so no one can open it and knock you off
- Never place a ladder on a box, barrel or other object to gain additional height
Climb with Care
When people use ladders frequently, then can run the risk of becoming complacent. Make sure every time you step on a ladder you are mindful of the task at hand.
- Face the ladder and always grip the rungs, not the side rails
- Always keep three points of contact with the ladder: two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand
- Never get off a ladder from the side
- Make sure extension ladders extend 3 feet above
the roof or platform you’re trying to reach.
Don’t lean or overreach; reposition the ladder instead. Remember the Belt Buckle Rule – Your belt buckle should not go past the side rails of the ladder nor above the top step of a step ladder
Don’t climb while carrying tools; use a tool belt
Wear slip-resistant shoes
Never have someone climb up to bring you something; only one person should be on a ladder at a time
Consider the Conditions
It may seem obvious that using a ladder during a storm is not a good idea, but we’re going to mention it anyway.
- Do not use extension ladders in windy or inclement weather
- If bad weather arises, climb down immediately and wait for it to pass
- Clean the ladder after each use to prevent dirt buildup, especially if it’s left outside in wet or muddy conditions
Statistics on Ladder Injury
Ladder-related incidents kill almost three workers every week and injure more than 50 workers every day in the United States. Workers in the construction industry are most at risk.