Ladder Safety: Essential DIY Ladder Safety Tips for Your Home & Workplace Safety
Falling off a ladder is very easy. Even the properly trained persons can fall off. In fact, falls from portable ladders are a major cause for concern in the workplace, as far as work at height safety is concerned. Many people are negligent to dismiss the need for specialized knowledge or skills to when a ladder. Good news is, staying safe on the ladder can also be very easy, but there are a number of precautions that you need to take. Read on for some essential DIY tips for proper use of ladders.
- Maintain 3-Point Contact
Three-point contact requires that you, at all times, place two feet and a hand or two hands and a foot in contact with the ladder It’s essential that only one person is allowed to climb or descend a ladder at a time - and always face the ladder as you hold the side rails with both hands.
- Avoid Overloading
Most load-supporting equipment maximum have load limits usually indicated by the manufacturer. When using a ladder, do not exceed this capacity - if the load weighs higher than the set capacity, look for a stronger ladder or a different access method. You may consult your manufacturer on the proper safety ladders to use and the correct application of the equipment. When using a ladder, avoid sudden movements and always ensure your weight is at the centre of the ladder rails to achieve balance and stability.
- Avoid Overreaching
Overreaching is a big risk that you should avoid at all costs. It can cause your ladder to move unexpectedly, and an accident could be inevitable. Ensure to position yourself on the ladder properly - avoid using the top steps on a stepladder and the top three rungs on a ladder, unless you’ve fitted an appropriate handrail. Also, discourage your workers from straddling stepladders and ensure that they face the ladders towards the work to prevent side loading.
- Set-Up & Position Your Ladder Properly
Always ensure to set up your ladder or stepladder on a firm level surface. Consider using a leg-lever if the surface is uneven and pointed ladder shoes if the surface is loose or unstable.
The angle in which you set up the ladder is also crucial; a 75-degree is usually preferred. Perhaps you must have heard about the 4-to-1 rule before? For starters, for every 4 feet you have to climb, the base of the ladder should be 1 foot away from the wall. So, if you’re to climb an 8 feet wall, move the base 2 feet away from the wall.
If you need to access the roof or another surface, use a ladder that extends about 3 feet from the contact point. Also, before raising any ladder (and its extension), be very keen on the power lines.
In case of a stepladder, avoid using it when folded and always check that you’ve opened the spreaders fully and have locked them into place. There’s a labelled maximum height that you shouldn’t go beyond, lest you increase the chances of falling and sustaining injuries.
The Bottom Line
Before using any ladder, especially one you’ve never set foot on before, it’s essential to check and inspect for signs of weaknesses & damage, sharp edges, bent steps, missing components, loose rivets,...etc. Look for any potential risk and eliminate it prior to using or allowing your staff to use the equipment. Always stay safe!