Ladders used incorrectly cause more accidents, in both the DIY world and the professional world, than almost any other piece of equipment. You can dramatically reduce the chance of injury when using a ladder by following these rules.
– Choose the right ladder for the job. For example, if the ladder will be used near electrical sources, use a wooden or fibreglass ladder to reduce the risk of electrocution.
– Although boots are recommended for most DIY tasks, when using a ladder it is better to wear shoes. Shoes let you feel the rungs better with your feet, and therefore give you a better footing. However, wearing shoes with soles that are too thin can cause feet to ache.
– Before climbing any type of ladder, including stepladders, make sure your shoes are free of mud or grease. Also check your shoelaces are tied and that your trousers cannot get caught under your feet.
– Do not carry sharp tools in your pockets when climbing a ladder. If you fall or slip your injuries are likely to be a lot worse if you land on the screwdriver in your pocket! Carry tools in a small bag so that you can throw it clear if you start to fall. If you include a small S hook in your tools, you can hang the bag at the level at which you are working.
– When climbing a high ladder, look at the wall in front of you rather than up or down. Looking at the wall will stop you feeling dizzy. This is obviously especially important if you are prone to dizziness at heights.
– Never stand on the top rung of a ladder! The recommended safety position is four rungs from the top. If you can’t reach the area you need to work on, get a longer ladder rather than risk your life. Always leave at least two or three rungs overlapping on extending ladders, depending on the length of the ladder.
– Do not lean out to the side when working on a ladder. Keep your centre of gravity between the stiles (the uprights). If you need to stretch, move the ladder!
– When possible, have someone you trust holding the bottom of the ladder. By placing their foot firmly on the bottom rung and gripping the stiles, they will prevent the bottom of the ladder slipping.
– Always try to keep the foot of the ladder on a firm, flat surface. If this is not possible, placing a strong board under the feet or tying the bottom rung to a stake driven into the ground can help. If the rubber feet at the bottom of the ladder are missing or damaged, replace them or use a different ladder.
– Store wooden ladders off of the ground. Leaving a wooden ladder on the ground can cause it to warp. This will make it dangerous to use!
– Remember that aluminium ladders will conduct electricity very well. Be sure to keep them away from overhead cables when moving them around.
– If you are working in front of a door, it is a good idea to lock the door to prevent someone opening it and knocking you off.
– Observe the three-point contact rule when climbing ladders. This means you should always have two hands and a foot, or two feet and one hand, etc, on the ladder as you climb.