A ladder is a vital piece of equipment for anyone who works at height. However, ladders cause 30,000 injuries and 6,000 deaths each year which is why it is so incredibly important to know exactly how to use them safely.
Many of these accidents are preventable, it's just that people aren't always sure what safety precautions should be made. That's why we are writing this blog, to make sure that you can use ladders safely. Here are some tips to make sure you know what the safe use of ladders is:
Inspect your ladder carefully
Whatever type of ladder you are using, whether it is a leaning ladder or a step ladder, you must inspect it carefully before using it. It doesn't matter whether your ladder is old or new (although of course, it is more likely to become unsafe over time), you must be sure it's in good working condition. Even if your ladder is relatively new, you can't be sure it hasn't been damaged during its last use or whilst in storage. Be sure to check:
- The feet - the foundation of your ladder needs to be sturdy to ensure that your ladder will sit level. If your ladder's feet are damaged, missing or have worn away you can't be sure it has the right grip to use safely.
- The stiles - If they look damaged, split or bent then they may have become weak enough to snap whilst you are on it.
- The weight limit - with the above being said, each ladder will have a maximum weight limit. Be sure that no one using the ladder exceeds it for their own safety.
- The rungs - be sure none of the rungs (steps) are missing, loose or bent as you trust the stiles of the ladder to hold most of, if not all of your weight.
- The locking bars - important for step ladders, these hold the ladder together in place in a stable condition. Make sure they are not damaged.
- Any fixings - fixings on your ladder are there for a reason, just because you may be unsure why doesn't mean they aren't vital.
- Stepladder platform - this is the part that will hold your weight for a period of time. Be sure it isn't damaged in anyway or it could collapse.
If for any reason your ladder is not in good enough condition to use safely, you can see our collection of high-quality ladders here.
Safe use of the ladder
Never overreach on a ladder - always have a ladder that is the right length for your project. Overreaching can cause you to lose balance.
Don't spend too long up a ladder - it's recommended that you don't spend longer than 30 minutes working up a leading ladder.
Get the angle right - leaning ladders should be used at a 75-degree angle.
Only use on a stable surface - make sure your ladder is on a stable foundation that doesn't move. The feet must all be balanced.
Sensible shoes - there's a chance in the wrong shoes (or no shoes) that you may slip on a ladder. If you're looking for a ladder with the extra grip you may want to invest in an anti-slip ladder.
Face forward - avoid turning in a different direction from your ladder. This is when you are climbing up, down or working on it. Working to the side could be dangerous.
Keep 3 points of contact - you should ideally have both feet and one had on the ladder at all times. When using a step ladder for jobs that require two hands, your body can become a point of contact. Any less could increase the risk of falling.
Use a tool belt - don't take up a hand that could be used to hold onto the ladder. A tool belt can hold a number of tools so that you don't have to.
Don't use the very top of a leaning ladder - you should not use the three top steps/rungs of a leaning ladder as it is possible that the ladder will lose balance.
You can download a free copy of the official HSE guide to the safe use of ladders and stepladders by clicking here.
If you're wondering which ladder would best suit your project we would be more than happy to assist you to pick the right one. If you've browsed our collection and are still unsure or have any general questions regarding the safe use of ladders then please feel free to get in touch. Contact us here today.