Top Tips For Using Ladders Correctly

Top Tips For Using Ladders Correctly

23rd January 2014

For those whose jobs involve working at heights, dedicated Work at Height Training is a must.  However, anybody is deemed capable of using an ordinary ladder without such training and this can lead to accidents that result in injury, even if the ladder is not a particularly high one.  Many people believe that ladder use is so simple that training is not necessary.  This is not true; training in the use of ladders is an important factor in reducing the risks and avoiding unnecessary accidents and injuries.

Ladders are used so much, both in industry and in a domestic setting that it is difficult to get across the message that ladder safety training is vital.  Even a short fall from a ladder can cause serious injury or death as seen in the case in Plymouth in 2011 when a worker died following internal injuries sustained in a fall from a ladder that was just seven feet.  While falls from a greater height are considered the most dangerous, those who work at height will be required to undertake the requisite Work at Height Training in accordance with Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR).

Because short ladders are not considered so dangerous, people often tend to use them without taking safety issues into consideration and this results in frequent low level falls.  Many of these low level falls do not result in serious injury which compounds the view that no training is necessary in using short ladders.  People become indifferent to the risks involved in using ladders and this is a major contributor to the number of injuries sustained on short ladders, both in industry and within the home.

Here are some tips that will help with the use of short ladders:

  • Make sure you choose the correct ladder for the task at hand – it is especially important to ensure that the ladder being used will allow full access to the area you need to reach without having to stretch too far.  Over-reaching (either upwards or sideways) while using a ladder is one of the most frequent causes of falls.
  • If you’re working on a leaning ladder, then make it a rule to always maintain a hand hold and keep both feet on the same rung whilst working.
  • The position of the ladder is vital – the one-in-four rule comes into play here.  For every four units up, the ladder should be positioned one unit out from the wall it is leaning on.  For example, a job that is eight feet high needs the ladder to be placed two feet out from the wall.
  •  Whenever possible the ladder should be tied for extra stability – this will significantly reduce the risk of a fall and should be done whenever conditions allow.
  • It might seem patently obvious, but make sure that the surface on which the ladder is resting is stable.  The floor should not be slippery or uneven and the ladder feet should rest directly on the floor (not on material which is covering the floor such as dust sheets, packaging papers, etc).

If you’re intending to use a ladder for some jobs around the home, then reading up on ladder safety online before you start could mean the difference between a job well done or a trip to the local hospital.