With an estimated two million ladders in daily use across the UK, it is perhaps not surprising that ladders account for around 40% of falls from height accidents investigated by the Health & Safety Executive in workplaces in the UK each year.
The use of ladders is by far and away the largest single cause of such accidents both in the workplace and at home.
We decided to share the Do’s and Dont’s on the use of ladders. While its best not to use them sometimes they need to be used.
How to Put Up Ladders
Placing ladders in the wrong position is the most often made mistake that leads to injuries. Here is how to place the put up the ladder safely.
- Make sure you do not put the ladder on uneven ground.
- Place the ladder laying flat on the ground.
- Push one end of the ladder against a wall.
- Lift the other end of the ladder up and rest against the wall.
- Set the right angle, by using a 1:4 ratio. Divide the ladder by four. If the ladder i 4 meters long, the base should be 1 meter away from the wall.
- If the ladder is extra long, find a second person to help from the other end.
How to Climb a Ladder Safely
- Ensure that your ladder is fit and fully functional before using it. Check thoroughly for any loose steps or other defects.
- When you place the ladder, be sure it is on an even and not slippery surface. Remember that just one swing can be crucial. If the ground is uneven, do not put anything under the ladder, as it will only make it more unstable.
- Always climb with a two-hand grip, facing the ladder.
- Avoid holding a box of tools in one hand when climbing up.
- Take one step at a time and don’t rush it. If the angle is not right, you should be able to feel some shaking. Get back down to fix the angle in necessary.
How to Climb a Step Ladder Safely
- Ensure the ladder is fit and fully functional before using it.
- Never set up a stepladder on uneven, or slippery ground.
- Never sit or stand on the very top step of the step ladder.
- Only climb up the front of the ladder, never the back side.
- Do not allow a second person to climb from the other side. There are special two person ladders out there, but if this isn’t one, let the second person only hold the ladder in place if they want to help.
- Keep your hips within the two vertical rails.
- Remove all tools and materials from the ladder before moving it. You really want that hammer falling on your face?
- Never use a step ladder like an extension ladder by leaning it against a wall.
Never leave step ladders unattended, especially if there are children around. Remember your childhood and how fun it was to get on high places – the kids want to do it too. So, when you’re done working, put the ladder away, or at least lay it on the ground.
What Not to Do
The following basic precautions come in handy.
- Never use the top two steps of an extension ladder.
- Do not work near any electricity, especially if the ladder is made of metal.
- Do not lean a step ladder to a wall, the way you would do with an extension ladder. They don’t work the same way.
- Both step ladder feet should sit firmly on the ground. If the ground is uneven, dig some dirt out from beneath one foot.
- Never place an extension ladder on slippery surfaces.
- Always face the ladder when ascending and descending.
- Use both hands to grab the rungs, not the rails.
- Wear a tool belt or holster to carry tools and supplies in order to decrease your time going up and down.
- Keep your hips within the vertical side rails, otherwise the ladder will lose balance.