Here are some critical ladder safety tips you just can’t ignore.
Ladders are essential items in every shed or garage, often regularly used for various reasons and in multiple sizes. And yet, they can be uncommonly dangerous - the source of many catastrophic accidents in the home.
Take these essentials to heart:
Ladder Safety Info Source:
Health and Safety Authority Ireland (HSA)
The HSA has an excellent info sheet on USING LADDERS SAFELY. Perfect for employers, self-employed tradespeople and anyone who uses a ladder. It guides risk assessment and a list of safety considerations with a good guide on what ladder features are best to look out for.
Choose The Right Ladder For the Job
Before you even begin, ensure you have sourced the right ladder for the job. Talk to the store assistant in your local Homevalue store if you have to clarify ladder specifications. Also, make sure you have considered the following when shopping:
- Load Bearing / Load Rating - is it suitable for your weight? This includes the tools and equipment you will be carrying on the ladder.
- Can it extend to the correct height? Overreaching will cause you to lose balance. Here’s a good rule of thumb: there must be the sufficient height to use the ladder without using the top 3 feet.
Is Everything in Good Working Order?
Is the Ladder in Good Working Order?
- Check that working parts are intact such as rungs and safety clips
- Check rungs, especially for slippery surfaces or oily residue, to avoid slips
- Look out for any structural damage and check for stability
- Look out for any loose screws, bolts or hinges on the ladder
Are You in Good Working Order?
That’s right! Check yourself. If you're feeling dizzy or faint, this is an obvious sign you need to step back from the ladder!
Ladder Setup and Placement Safety Tips
How you set up your ladder before use and the location it is placed in must be considered. Here are some essential safety tips for positioning your ladder
- Ensure the ground surface that your ladder is mounted on a level, stable surface. If non-slip base pads are at the bottom of the ladder, this will help - to ensure these are intact. Never place a ladder onto a stack of boxes, barrels, or other unstable items.
- Ensure it is not too close to electrical wiring or power lines above, ESPECIALLY if it is a metal ladder, as you may risk electrocution.
- If the ladder is mounted in front of a doorway, gate or window - make sure that it is not accessible from the other side and is ideally locked so the doorway/ window pane may not inadvertently open up against the ladder.
- Step ladders that have to be unlocked into position must be fully extended and stabilised before you use them.
- If using your ladder to access a roof area, make sure the Ladder extends at least 3 feet above the edge. Secure the top of the ladder against the roof’s edge by tying it into place at the top to secure it.
Follow The 4 to 1 Ratio
This is another good rule of thumb. Always ensure the base of your ladder is 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet of height to the point of support.
How To Climb Your Ladder Safely
When you are climbing the ladder, there is a safer technique.
- When climbing a ladder, always make sure you are facing it.
- When in the process of treading the rungs and climbing the ladder, keep yourself near the middle.
DO use the 3-POINT Contact Rule.
Here’s another good ratio: Keep at least 3 limbs in contact with the ladder whilst you are on it or climbing. This means you must always have at least one hand holding onto the ladder whilst climbing it.
What NOT TO DO When Climbing a Ladder
- Never carry loads that require you to use both hands so you can’t hold on to the ladder. Instead, use a tool belt or a nearby hoist to help transport materials
- Never step onto the cross bracing on the rear of the stepladders when climbing
- Never step onto the top step or top cap
- Stay within the bounds of your ladder, as you risk losing your grip or balance
Coworkers, Take Note!
Ladder safety is also affected by the other people in the vicinity.
- Never move a ladder around whilst someone is still on it or lean against the side of a ladder whilst someone is using it
- If you work in a busy area with lots of traffic or footfall, cordon off the area with a barricade, barrier or safety signage so passersby or coworkers may not inadvertently displace it whilst in use