Portable Ladder Safety
Most of us use ladders from time to time. However, few of us take time to review the basics of ladder safety. The following guidelines can help those who use ladders to do so properly and prevent injuries.
• Avoid climbing unless absolutely necessary.
• Select the proper ladder for the job, (i.e., aluminum, wood, fiberglass, step, extension or a straight ladder). For instance, never use an aluminum ladder around electricity.
• Choose a ladder that fits the job. If ladders are too short, people will climb too high leaving them without proper handholds. Ladders that are too long are difficult to handle. They also tend to be erected askew and may be highly unstable.
• Never use a ladder for a purpose that it was not designed for.
• Inspect the ladder’s condition before use. Discard any damaged ladder.
• Wear slip resistant footwear.
Ladders should be inspected and documented by a competent person on a periodic basis. Items to look for should include:
• Any structural damage such as cracks, bends, kinks or distortions.
• All rungs are in place, secure and free of grease or oil.
• Safety feet are in good condition and functional.
• Any missing parts.
• Working spreaders.
• A ladder should not be placed in doorways, passageways or other locations where it can be disturbed.
• Make sure the ladder is set on a level stable surface.
• A non-self-supporting ladder should be placed at an angle of approximately 75̊. The distance from the wall to the foot of ladder should be about ¼ the ladder’s total length.
• When using a non-self-supporting ladder to access a point to where you will dismount, the ladder should extend at least 3 feet beyond the support point. The ladder should also be lashed as close to the support point as possible.
Climbing and Descending
• Face the ladder while climbing or descending and hold on to it with both hands.
• Always maintain at least a 3-point contact with either two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.
• Keep centered on the ladder.
• Never lean beyond the side rails, or move, shift or extend the ladder while on it.
• Never climb past the second step from the top on a stepladder.
• Take one step at a time.
• If tools are needed, use a tool belt or a bucket attached to a hand line.
• Allow one person on a ladder at a time.
Remember that the ladder is a tool to assist in getting the job done, just like a wrench or screwdriver. Focusing on the task that necessitates using a ladder, while ignoring the tool, is a primary cause of ladder injuries. Climbing and descending a ladder must be a zero mistake activity. You can’t afford an error in judgment.