Spring is coming and with that lots of people are going to be getting out those ladders for spring pruning or hauling things up and down to the attic. Then there are the men and women who rely on ladders as part of their livelihood. So let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts when using ladders.
- Check your ladder for any broken rungs, stuck or broken lock-outs, loose screws, etc.
- Use the right ladder for the job. Your kitchen step stool is not the right tool to inspect your roof but then again pulling out your 20′ ladder to clean the top of the refrigerator is not either.
- Clean off wet/slippery rungs before climbing. It’s also recommended that you wipe off your shoes as well.
- Make sure you place your ladder on firm and secure footing. Boxes, tables, your car are not places to place a ladder.
- The recommended slope for ladders is 75 degrees or a 1:4 ratio of distance off the object vs height of ladder/contact point.
- Protect the base of the ladder from traffic and secure the top of the ladder.
- Properly extend your ladder and ensure that any hinges are locked-out.
- Face the ladder at all times while you are climbing.
- Use the three points of contact method combined with the belly button theory when climbing:
- Move one hand OR foot at a time keeping both feet and one hand in contact with the ladder; OR move one foot while the other foot and both hands are on the ladder;
- Always keep your belly button (belt buckle) in between the side rails of the ladder.
- Do not tie ladders together to reach higher.
- Do not use a broken ladder. Seems silly to have to say this, but if you are not regularly inspecting your ladders for damage, you may be in a rush to save a cat out of a tree and feel the need to use your broken ladder.
- Never use a conductive/metal ladder near electrical sources.
- Ladders need a stable base, never place a ladder on a box, a table, your car, your friend’s back.
- Do not place a ladder in front of a door until you restrict access to the door.
- Do not carry equipment up with your hands. Use a utility belt or a pulley system to get the materials up to your working location.
There are approximately 188,000 ladder injuries treated each year in emergency rooms; with falls from heights being the 4th most common cause of work-related injuries. And all of these falls? They cost the US economy approximately $5.12 BILLION dollars! So whether you are a weekend worker trying to spruce up your property or you rely on ladders to perform your job, be aware, be smart and follow proper ladder safety.