8 ways to get a leg up when using ladders

July 13, 2015

Ladders can help make some tricky jobs much easier. Here are eight practical tips the pros follow to help you use ladders safely and sensibly so you can avoid accidents.

8 ways to get a leg up when using ladders

1: Hold the rungs, not the rails

Whenever you're climbing up or down a ladder, hold the rungs and not the rails. Here's why:

  • Using the rungs to move up and down your ladder can keep you from slipping down.
  • If you're holding the rails of a metal ladder and you slip, you'll get skin burns.
  • If you slip down the rails of a wooden ladder, you'll get splinters.
  • Climbing the rungs can help you avoid both of these scenarios.

2: Go wireless on ladders

  • If possible, use cordless power tools when you're working on a ladder.
  • Cutting the cords out of the equation means that there's one less thing to get tangled in the ladder or around you.

3: Use the top rungs as hand holds only

  • When on your ladder, use the top four rungs only as hand holds.
  • Standing on the top four rungs and holding something like a gutter or window frame for support will likely lead to a nasty fall.

4: Broaden your base on soft ground

  • If you're setting your ladder on soft ground put a piece of plywood under your ladder's feet.
  • Your piece of plywood should be 2 cm (0.8 inches) thick and 20 cm (8 inches) wider and deeper than your ladder's base.
  • Be sure to stake down the corners of your plywood to keep it from shifting when you're on your ladder.

5: Give your ladder broad appeal for windows

  • When you're working on high windows it's a not a good idea to rest the top of your ladder against the glass. The extra pressure could crack or break the glass.
  • Instead lash a length of wood to the end of your ladder to broaden it.
  • This length of wood should measure at least 7.5 cm wide (3 inches) and 5 cm (2 inches) thick.
  • This length of wood should extend at least 26.5 cm (10.5 inches) beyond the window on either side.
  • Now the wood will rest on the masonry on either side of the window and hold your ladder safely away from the glass.

6: Soften old ladder-ends

  • Ladder-ends can get very rough after years of use.
  • Worn ends may even scratch or scar the paintwork or siding they're resting against.
  • Tie old socks, gloves or mittens around the tops of your ladder's rails to soften old ladder ends and to keep them from scarring what they rest on,.

7: Avoid shocking situations with fibreglass ladders

  • Working near power lines with a metal or damp wooden ladder is dangerous. Both of these materials can conduct an electrical current.
  • If you must work near power lines, use a non-conductive fibreglass ladder.

8: A safe way to set up and move an extension ladder

  1. Place your ladder's feet against the base of the wall. Now lift the top rung and walk your ladder up, rung by rung, until vertical. Next, pull your ladder's feet out from the wall. Extend your ladder at least one metre (three feet) above where you're working and lock it.
  2. Set the feet of your ladder on a solid, level surface at roughly a 75 degree angle to the ground. You're likely to have the right angle when you can stand with your toes touching the feet of your ladder, your arms and back straight, and your hands on the rungs at shoulder height.
  3. When it comes time to move your ladder, unlock the extension and lower it, rung by rung, until it's all the way down. Carry your ladder parallel to the ground while heading to the next location. Once you arrive, set up your ladder as you did before.

Following these eight handy tips can help you to stay safe when working with ladders, and reduce the stress of being on a shaky or improperly set up ladder. Understanding these tips can also help you to work faster so that jobs that used to be tricky can go much more smoothly.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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