5 guidelines for ladder safety

Sometimes outdoor tasks require getting up on high. But you must be careful. Few things are as easy as falling off a ladder, and it's true that ladder-related accidents are all too common.

5 guidelines for ladder safety

1. Test out the ladder first

  • Before climbing a ladder, check it for damaged rungs.
  • You can lay a wood ladder flat on the ground and walk on the rungs—it's the safest way to find weak ones.
  • If you are even a little unsure of the ladder's safety, don't use it.

2. Extension ladders need a wide angle

Before climbing, position the base of an extension ladder so it's one-quarter of the ladder's length away from the vertical surface.

  • For instance, if you lean a four-metre ladder against a wall, the base should be at least one metre away from the edge of the wall.
  • If the angle isn't wide enough it can wobble, and this is the last thing you want.

3. Plan to use the ladder safely

  • Before carrying tools up a ladder, be sure you have a place to put them when you reach the top.
  • It may be best to climb the ladder and have someone hand you the tools. It's always safer to have someone else nearby when using a ladder, anyway.

4. Keep your ladder's state visible

Never paint a wooden ladder, because paint hides rot and damage; protect the wood with varnish instead.

5. Position yourself safely while climbing

Keep your stance solid.

  • Plant both feet on the same rung close to the uprights—not in the middle, especially on an old ladder.
  • Lean in and keep your weight on the balls of your feet—not on the arch—so you can react quickly if you start to lose your balance.
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