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Ladder Safety 101

Last Updated Dec 28, 2011 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald

If you need to access an area that’s too high for you to comfortably reach when you are standing, a ladder is the perfect solution. However, if they are not used properly, ladders are actually quite dangerous. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to ladder safety. You’ll be able to access all areas of your home with ease and without fear of injury!

Make Sure Your Ladder is in Good Condition!

The first step towards using a ladder safely is making sure that your ladder is in good condition.  Always do a visual inspection of your ladder before you use it and check that there are no visibly damaged areas.  Also, you should store your ladder correctly, preferable in a covered location where it cannot be vandalised or affected by the weather.

Don’t Use the Ladder Unsupervised

Another thing that you should do is to make sure that you have someone with you when you are using the ladder.  It is never a good idea to leave the ladder unattended while you are on the roof or whatever in case it slips slightly or it is knocked over by kids, pets or something else.  Having someone there is helpful as they will steady the ladder as you are climbing on it.

Use the Ladder Correctly

It is surprising how many people end up using ladders incorrectly, just so that they can get a little bit of extra height from them!  Most ladders will have marked on the rungs the maximum safe height – never step above this as this will reduce the stability of the ladder and make it more prone to tipping over.  Also extend the ladder correctly, and make sure that it is resting on a safe surface.

Use the Right Ladder for Your Situation

An excellent ladder safety tip is to make sure that you are using the right ladder for the job that you are doing.  If you just need a little bit of extra height in the home, a stepladder is perfect.  If you will be near any type of potential electrical hazard, make sure your ladder is non-conductive.  If working outdoors, an extension ladder is ideal but make sure it is locked open before starting to climb on it.

Ensure a Stable Working Platform

To make sure your ladder is truly stable when you are using it, you should adhere to the 1:4 ratio as much as possible. The 1:4 ratio is simple.  For every four feet of ladder height, you should position the ladder one foot away from whatever surface it is leaning on. Therefore, for a twelve feet high ladder, it should be three feet away from the wall, for example.

Have Someone to Pass You Items

If you are on a ladder, chances are you will be carrying items up and down it.  If so, it is a good idea to have someone with you to pass items to you or to take items from you. That way, your hands are free to keep you stable on the ladder and you are balanced as you climb up and down.  Have the item passed to you when you are on the desired position on the ladder and pass down an item before you start climbing down.
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