8 Safety Tips to Know When Using a Ladder

Every year people are injured from falls related to improper use of ladders. A careless approach to using a ladder can result in unwanted injury, as well as a hefty hospital bill. Some of these injuries can even result in permanent disability and/or death. Whether you’re using a ladder to work on roof repairs, install a ceiling fan, or hang up holiday décor in your home, using proper safety measures when climbing up and down the ladder can help to prevent any unwanted injuries. 

Because ladders are considered tools, some of the basic safety rules that apply to tools also apply to ladders. As with any tool, it’s best to inspect the ladder before climbing on it. Take a few minutes to make sure the rungs are secure and there are no cracks or rusted parts on the rungs. Also, ladders that are off-balanced should not be used. 

Ladders are separated into classes (certification system). Each class specifies the color coding of the ladder, type of use the ladder is made for, the maximum weight load the ladder can hold. You can read more about these three certification classes here

When using a ladder, it’s best to use apply a method that’s known as The Three Points of Contact. This rule suggests that you keep three points of contact with the ladder at all times using one of these two combinations:

  • Two hands and one foot
  • Two feet and one hand

Here are 8 helpful safety tips to maximize on The Three Points of Contact method climbing up and down a ladder. 

1- Footwear 

Wearing slip-resistant shoes with clean soles when using a ladder is a must. This helps to maximize traction as you are climbing. If the soles on your shoes are smooth and unable to grip the rung underneath your foot, they will be of no value to you – even if you are using the Three Points of Contact rule. Slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles will also help to prevent foot fatigue while you are working. 

2- Position of Your Body 

Keep the center of your stomach between the side rails of the ladder when you are on it and working. Overreaching and leaning while working on a ladder can result in you falling off the ladder, as well as the ladder itself tipping over sideways. 

3- Moving the Ladder 

Never try to move the ladder over to a different location while you are working on it. Climbing up and down each time you need to move the ladder can be tedious, but it is well worth it when considering the catastrophic results that can happen when trying to scoot the ladder over while you’re already on it. 

4- Tool Belt 

Strap on a tool belt and fill it with the tools and supplies you’ll need for the job before climbing up the ladder. This way your hands are free to use when climbing, and you’ll have everything you need readily available for you to use as needed. 

5- Setting the Ladder 

When setting your ladder in place before use, look for a level ground with firm support. Uneven ground causes the ladder to wobble and soft ground causes the ladder to sink while you’re using it. Also, make sure to set the ladder at the angle the manufacturer suggests. 

6- Clear Path 

When propping a ladder up against a wall, avoid doorways and pathways where there would be potential pedestrians walking around. All it takes is an unconscious bump from a passerby to cause the ladder to tip over with you on it. 

7- Top of the Ladder 

Never stand on top of a ladder. Even if it has a flat top, this is very dangerous. The ladder is likely to become unstable underneath you as you are working since your weight won’t be evenly distributed or centered on the ladder. 

8- Climbing Posture 

Improper climbing posture increases the likelihood of slips and falls when using ladders. Take your time and climb slowly and deliberately, making sure to avoid sudden movements that could jerk the ladder out of place.

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