How to Drive a Ladder – Part One

How to Drive a Ladder – Part One

09th July 2019

In our latest monthly News Roundup article, we covered a story in which a ladder brought traffic to a standstill.  The incident occurred on the A1270 Northern Distributor Road when a set of ladders being transported on a roof rack fell into the road, disrupting traffic until the offending access equipment had been cleared off the tarmac.  This story just serves to illustrate that no matter how much safety training is delivered to ladder users throughout the land, accidents will still happen!  We thought this was a sign from the ladder gods that we should probably remind our readers how ladders should be transported from one site to another.

The first thing to learn is how to carry a ladder safely – make sure you’re aware of any obstacles in your surroundings before you start and always move slowly when carrying a ladder.  Place the ladder sideways on the ground with the rungs facing you, with the top of the ladder to your left and the bottom to your right.  Stand next to a rung about a third of the way up the ladder from the bottom end and turn your body left so you’re at a right angle to the ladder, facing towards the top end.  Then bend your knees and take hold of the outside rail (stile) with your right hand.  If the ladder is too heavy to carry with one hand, grab the inside rail with your left hand too.  Lift the ladder, by straightening your knees, to prevent strain on the back.  If the weight tips towards the front or back of the ladder, put it down and move closer to the end that feels heavier.  Always check for obstacles before turning (using your feet, not your waist which will make the ladder swing). 

When it comes to driving ladders from site to site, you need a buffer to protect both the ladder and the roof of your vehicle if you don’t have a roof rack.  Pillows, foam or a blanket placed between the ladder and the vehicle roof will suffice.

Once the ladder is on the roof (preferably against the roof rack, or between the bars), it should be secured at both ends using ropes, bungees or clamps – you can buy specialised ladder clamps featuring security eyelets which makes securing the ladder much easier and is a worthwhile investment if you drive your ladders around frequently.  If you use padlocks to secure the ladder it will act as a theft deterrent too.  When the ladder is properly secured, do a quick test-drive if possible, to check that it’s really safe and secure.

Next week we’ll have part two of this article, with information on the legal requirement when it comes to overhanging loads, which includes ladders.  Make sure you don’t miss this important information, follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get a notification when the info is published.