Once you find the right ladder, the next step in ladder
safety is proper use. You shouldn't set up ladders in front of doors or in traffic
patterns; if you must, make sure the area is properly guarded, locked or barricaded.
Always position a ladder on a firm, flat surface. Use a board so the
ladder doesn't sink into soft ground, and don't use ladders in a strong wind. Never use
boxes or other such items to add height.
Your stepladder should be fully open and the spreaders locked securely
before you use it. Never stand on the top platform or top step of the ladder. Never use a
stepladder as a straight ladder. Before you climb an extension ladder, test the ropes,
pulleys and hooks. Even a rope that looks good can give way with one good tug. Ensure that
the hooks that attach the upper and lower section of the ladder are locked in place.
For every 4 feet of height between the bottom of an extension ladder
and the top point of support, move the base of the ladder 1 foot away from the wall. (Most
rungs are 1 foot apart.) This 4:1 ratio is important because if the angle is too steep,
you can fall backwards; if it's too horizontal, the ladder may break or slip out from
The higher you go on an extension ladder, the more likely the ladder
will slip because of the lack of weight at the bottom. In any straight-ladder application,
never climb beyond the third rung from the top. The best assurance is to tie-off the
ladder at the top, and hold or stake it at the bottom.
When you go up or down a ladder, be sure to face it. Hold onto the side
rails or the rungs with both hands. Carry your tools on your belt, and use lines to raise
heavier equipment. Be sure your shoes and hands are clean and dry. If you use power
equipment on a ladder, you must securely tie-off the ladder.
One of the most dangerous ladder hazards is to over-reach. Always keep your body
centered between the rails. If you feel too lazy to climb down and move the ladder, ask
yourself if those last few inches are worth a fall.
Source: Today's Supervisor
Author: Kathy Bold