Ladder Safety Tips For The DIY Enthusiast

Ladder Safety Tips For The DIY Enthusiast

30th May 2014

If you’re keen on DIY, chances are that you use a ladder around the home from time to time (or more frequently, depending on the types of projects you’re getting involved in).  Ladder safety is a vitally important issue in a domestic setting – we’re far more likely to cut corners or neglect the essential safety checks necessary when we’re at home, even though we wouldn’t dream of acting this way in the work environment.  Ladders are the cause of so many accidents here in the UK and national statistics show that a fall from a ladder is the most common cause of fatality in the workplace, accounting for a quarter of all deaths. 

While the Work at Height Regulations Act 2005 (WAHR) provides the requisite guidelines for many aspects of working at height, they cover health and safety in the workplace, not in the home.  When we’re at home, we need to ensure that we use all the necessary measures of preventing accidents and injuries that we would in the workplace.  This means using ladders safely and sensibly at all times.  We’ve put together a collection of ladder safety tips for the DIY enthusiast/homeowner to help you make sure that you use ladders safely at all times.

  • When buying a ladder don’t opt for the cheapest available model as it’s likely to be a false economy.  Buy an industrial standard ladder if possible as it will be more durable and able to bear heavier weights.
  • Make sure you inspect your ladder for damage/deterioration every time you use it.
  • When using a ladder, place it on a level surface, making sure that the ground area where you place the ladder is clean and clear of obstructions.
  • The ladder should be clean and slip-free – make sure that no part of the ladder is covered in paint, cement, grease, adhesive, sealant, etc.
  • If using a step ladder, always make sure that it is in the fully open position and that all locking devices at the top are engaged and in good condition.
  • Make sure that the surface on which you rest the ladder is not wet or slippery.
  • Wear proper shoes/boots with good tread and clean soles.
  • Remember when using a ladder that the highest standing level is two steps/rungs down from the top.
  • Always keep your body centred on the middle of the ladder – a good rule is to never allow your belt buckle to go past one of the side stays of the ladder (over-reaching).  If you need to over reach, then you really need to get down off the ladder and move it along to a position where you can comfortable reach the area you’re working on.
  • Never use your ladder as a work platform and never place it on anything to gain extra height – if you can’t reach, you need to use a longer ladder.
  • When working on a ladder, make sure you always face the steps.
  • Never use a ladder near electrical cables.  If you need to carry out electrical work, then you need to use a ladder fabricated from non-conductive materials.