Use ladders safely with these tips!
The leaves have fallen and your eaves troughs are full! Whether you need to clean your eaves troughs or hang your Christmas lights – you likely need a ladder.
In the United States, there are roughly 160,000 ladder accidents per year. Most of the injuries are breaks and bruises, however 300 are serious or fatal. If I find the numbers for Canada I will post them. My message is – it is important to practices ladder safety, accidents are happening! I went to the American Ladder Institute’s website for a free on-line Ladder Safety Training refresher. I even got a certificate! Here are the main tips I garnered from the course.
Choose the right ladder
Make sure that you use the right ladder for the job.
- Assess your work environment to assess the risks and choose the best ladder for the job.
- Choose the proper ladder length so that it can be set up properly and that you can use it properly.
- Ladders are rated for maximum load – choose one that it will support your weight, plus the weight of your clothing, tools and equipment.
- Do not use aluminum (or metal) ladders if you are using power tools or near sources of electricity!
- Do not use a ladder that is damaged.
- If you don’t own the right ladder, borrow or rent the right ladder. The Toronto Tool Library keeps has a selection of ladders that member may borrow. Don’t use the wrong ladder for the job.
Proper setup is critical for your safety!
- Check overhead for wires or obstructions.
- Be aware of environmental conditions. Rain and snow can cause slippery conditions. High winds can reduce the stability of the ladder.
- Place your ladder on a stable flat surface, never place a ladder on top of another object.
- Use the 1:4 ratio (one foot horizontal for every four feet of height) for setting up, a simple way to measure this ratio is to stand with your toes at the bottom and your arms straight out should hold a rung.
- If you are climbing onto another surface (for example onto your roof), make sure the ladder extends 3 feet past that surface.
- Secure tall ladders by lashing or fastening it to prevent movement, or have someone hold the ladder for you.
- When using an A-frame step ladder, make sure that the brace is locked in place.
- When using an extension ladder, make sure that the overlap is at or longer than the minimum i(3 feet for a 16-32 foot ladder) and that rung locks are engaged.
Use the ladder safely by following these rules:
- Only one person is allowed on a ladder at a time.
- Always face the ladder when you are climbing or descending.
- Do not climb higher than the second rung from the top on a step ladder or the third rung from the top on straight or extension ladders.
- Maintain a three-point contact with the ladder – hold with two hands when you take a step, stand with two feet when you reach with one hand.
- Keep your waste between the rungs, do not over-reach sideways.
- Wear proper footwear – non-slip and closed toe.
- Carry supplies on your belt, use a winch to bring your supple or have someone hand them to you.
- Guard your ladder so no-one bumps into it, never work in front of closed doors without locking or having the doors guarded.
Don’t let accidents happen to you! Practice Ladder Safety!
Do you have ladder tips or stories to share? If so, please add them to the comments section. We learn from each other.