It is estimated that there are over 200,000 cases of ladder related injuries every year.
And that the estimated number of fatalities is over 300 annually.
This goes to show just how seriously people who are in occupations that require the use of ladders should take every precaution to avoid falls.
And not only them, but also homeowners who use ladders from time to time.
And many companies today that are in the construction, telecommunication, and other industries that use ladders regularly have implemented ladder fall protection systems.
These systems protect workers from fall injuries by enforcing certain ladder safety rules and procedures. And the rules, which vary from company to company, apply based on ladder type and height level.
Let us look at some basic ladder safety rules that you can follow at home.
Basic Ladder Safety Rules
Select the Right Ladder
Make sure that you use the right ladder for the job. For example, A-frame ladders are designed for multi-use, but there are certain jobs that require a different type of ladder.
Using the wrong can ladder may have serious consequences. So it’s important to know the purpose a ladder is designed for before purchasing it. You should also ensure that the ladder reaches the appropriate height for the job.
If the ladder cannot reach this height and you have to stretch from atop the ladder to reach the worksite, this can be dangerous. Not only are you going to struggle to get the job done, you also increase your risk of falling over.
Inspect Your Ladder
Before you set up your ladder, check and double check that the ladder is in good condition for use. Check for damages even minor ones.
Check for corrosion, cracks, and bends or anything else that looks out of place. Check that there are no missing or damaged parts or components.
The ladder steps should not be oily, muddy or greasy. The ladder feet should be fitted with safety shoes. And all the bolts and rivets should work properly.
Also check to see that the locking system is working properly. And this is important because the system also plays a huge part in ensuring your safety when you are on the ladder.
If you find any defects with the ladder, get it fixed immediately if the problem is fixable. If not, discard the ladder and get a new one. No amount of money should be more important than your safety.
Check Your Surroundings
Before you set up your ladder, inspect your surroundings for overhead wires or other objects that could cause injury.
Avoid setting up your ladder on unlevel ground to avoid falls. And if the ground is greasy or dirty, under no circumstances should you set up your ladder until the surface is cleaned up and dry.
Don’t place your ladder in front of a closed door or window that opens outwards. And if you have to, make sure that the door or window is locked.
Never climb up a ladder when you are feeling dizzy or faint. It’s also not advisable to use a ladder if you are feeling unwell or if you have a condition that causes hand tremors.
And if you start to feel dizzy or unwell while you are on a ladder, descend slowly to avoid falling off.
Use the right shoes when climbing a ladder. Don’t use leather shoes or any other type of shoes that are not slip-resistant.
Maintain 3 Points of Contact
When climbing up or down the ladder, make sure that you always have 1 foot and 2 hands, or 2 feet and 1 hand in contact with the steps and side rails/rungs of your ladder.
Also, always face your ladder when ascending or descending. Don’t turn your body to look down when going down the ladder otherwise this could cause the ladder to become unsteady thereby causing you and the ladder to topple over.
Check the Weight Capacity of the Ladder
Different ladders have different weight capacities. And every ladder has a maximum weight capacity it can support.
If you weigh more than what your ladder can support, it may break causing you to fall. So buy a ladder that supports a weight capacity that exceeds your weight.
Additional Safety Measures
- Never use an aluminum ladder near live power lines or to fix live electrical wires since conduct electricity
- If it’s a one man ladder do not allow a second person on a ladder if you already on it
- Always read the instructions and guidelines on the label on a ladder
- Don’t lean when you are on the ladder to prevent a fall
- Don’t attempt to move the ladder when you are on top of a ladder
- Always clean the soles of your shoes before you use a ladder
- Use a tool belt to sure that both your hands are free when going up and down a ladder for a firm grip on the rails
- Climb up and down your ladder slowly. Climbing up quickly can cause the ladder to move in a bounce-like way
Stepladder Safety: What It’s All about – SafeFrame by Little Giant:
Stepladder Safety Measures
Stepladders come in varying sizes ranging from 4 feet to 20 feet long. And there are three main types: wooden, aluminum, and fiberglass ladders.
Stepladders are great for home use. And they can be used indoors and outdoors to do all sorts of jobs. Some come with extensions giving you the option of using the ladder as a straight ladder when you need to reach high heights like your house roof.
But despite the size or type of stepladder, safety rules need to be followed to prevent serious injury. And even though stepladders are much safer than other types of ladders, you can never be too safe.
That said, here are some stepladder safety rules, you might want to observe, if you don’t want to crack your head open from falling off the ladder:
- Ensure that all the four sides of the ladder are firmly placed on the ground before climbing and make sure the ground is level
- Don’t use a stepladder unless it spread completely open and the spreaders are locked
- Don’t stand or step on the top cap and top step of the ladder
- Don’t use a stepladder when there is a storm or when it is extremely windy
- Don’t allow a second person on the ladder unless the step ladder is a two-person stepladder
- Avoid leaning when you are on the ladder to avoid you and the ladder falling over
- Remove any tools that may be on the ladder before moving it. You really don’t want your hammer to meet your face.
- Don’t carry tools on either of your hands when climbing the ladder use a tool belt instead to carry your tools
- Always put your ladder away after using it. Don’t leave it unattended when you are on a break particularly if you have children
Extension Ladders Safety Measures
An extension ladder can allow you to reach heights that most stepladders cannot.
But because of the heights that you are able to reach with an extension ladder, there is also a greater risk of getting seriously injured if you were to fall. The more reason to take extension ladder safety rules very seriously.
So here are some important rules that you should follow like your life depends on it when using extension ladders:
- Always get a second person to help you set up an extension ladder because usually they are heavy
- Never set up an extension ladder on an unlevel or slippery ground
- When angling your ladder, use the 1:4 ratio to know at what angle you should place it based on its length. If the ladder is 12 feet, divide that by 4. That means that you should place a 12 foot ladder 3 feet away from the what you are leaning it against
- Make sure both feet of the ladder are placed firmly on the ground. If one foot is not, do not place objects underneath it to keep the ladder stable. Move the ladder to a different position where the ground is more level
- Never climb up an extension ladder with muddy or dirty shoes. Always ensure that the soles of your shoes are clean and dry
- Don’t use an extension ladder when the weather is not favorable
- Avoid climbing up an extension ladder if the steps are oily, greasy, or muddy
- Always avoid carrying your tools with one hand when climbing an extension ladder to minimize your risk of falling or destabilizing the ladder. Instead, use a tool belt to carry your tools
- Don’t stand on the 4th rung of the ladder
- Don’t place you ladder near power lines unless its made of fiberglass and other hazardous objects
- Avoid bringing an extension ladder down when it’s extended. If has a fixed length, get someone to help you get it down
- Don’t’ leave an extended ladder unattended
Safety Measures Based on Ladder Type
Wooden ladders are not as light as fiberglass or aluminum ladder, and they are not extendable. But they are extremely sturdy and can give you many years of use as long as you take good care of them.
- Don’t use a wooden ladder that has signs of deterioration like cracking
- Don’t paint a wooden ladder even for aesthetic reasons as you may cover cracks
- Check to see if the rails are chipped or cracked
- Check to see if the ladder is wiggly
Aluminum ladders are sturdy, long-lasting, and lightweight. But what you need to know about these ladders is that they are not electrically resistive or heat tolerant. So if you work with live wires or in high temperature conditions, using an aluminum ladder is a no no.
- Never use an aluminum ladder near power lines or live wires
- Don’t expose an aluminum ladder to extreme temperature conditions
- Don’t use a bent or rusty aluminum ladder
- If the rungs or rails are bent, don’t use the ladder
- Don’t use a ladder whose metal parts are loose
Fiberglass ladders are more expensive than wooden or aluminum ladders. But they are sturdier, tougher and more durable.
Fiberglass ladders are also poor conductors of heat so you can use them near power lines without worrying about getting electrocuted. They are also heat tolerant and can withstand high temperatures.
- Don’t use a ladder that has deformed rails and rungs
- Don’t use a ladder if you notice breaks or bends on it
Ladder Safety and Fall Protection:
Ladder Safety Checklist
Checklist for Inspecting a Ladder
- Missing or loose rails, rungs, and bolts
- Loose or defective hinges
- Bent metal rungs or stays
- Loose hinge spreaders
- General damage from corrosion, heat or chemical exposure
- Unstable steps
- Cracks, breaks, and bends
- Loose locks or locks that don’t lock properly
Checklist for Setting up a Ladder
- All the ladder feet are seated firmly on the ground
- The ground is level and solid
- The ground is not slippery or dirty
- There are no hazards near where you intend to set up the ladder
- The ladder steps are free from grease, oil and mud
- The locking system works properly
- The ladder is angled using the 1:4 ratio
Checklist for Using a Ladder
- Your shoes are non-slip and the soles are not muddy
- You are not feeling dizzy or faint
- Have a tool belt to keep your hands free
Using a ladder properly is essential to preventing fatal injuries. Even a ladder that is in good condition if used badly can cause serious injury.
This is why it is essential to have a checklist to remind yourself to follow ladder safety procedures.