By Soni Sheimar, General Manager, Easi-Dec
Last month I started this Blog series on ladder safety by looking at what type of ladders should be used for different tasks and how to check that a ladder is safe to use. This month I’m finishing the series with an overview of how to use ladders safely.
Using a ladder safely
Once you’ve carried out the risk assessment and the pre-use inspection as outlined last month, these simple steps will help to ensure that you are working safely from the ladder:
- make sure that the ladder is in fact long enough for the task, don’t overreach when working.
- as a rule the ladder should extend at least 1m (three rungs) above where you are working.
- when using a leaning ladder, place it at a 75° angle, using the 1 in 4 rule
- grip the ladder and face the rungs when climbing, making sure you maintain three points of contact (hand and two feet)
- NEVER slide down the stiles
Place the ladder against a solid surface, never rest it against a weak one such as a window or plastic guttering It may seem obvious but as the photographs below show, people don’t always use common sense when working off ladders. Make sure the ladder is on sturdy ground and don’t stand it on moveable objects such as bricks or vehicles.
Securing a ladder
Always make sure the ladder is secured properly so that there’s no chance of it slipping away from the wall or surface. For example:
- tie it to a suitable point making sure both stiles are tied at the top, part way down or at the bottom. Never tie a ladder by its rungs
- if the ladder can’t be tied, use a ladder stability device such as a stand-off or ladder spur. These provide increased stability and stop the ladder from slipping sideways
- if the first two options aren’t possible, then securely wedge the ladder
- as a very last resort you can foot the ladder
Always Ensure Competency
The steps I’ve outlined here are a starting point when it comes to ladder safety. As with any form of work at height, you should never use a ladder without proper planning, instruction and training. If you do, then the consequences can be serious.
So, if you are starting to think about exterior maintenance work such as unblocking gutters, fixing roof tiles, or even cleaning windows, make sure you use the right ladder and that it is in good condition. If you’re in any doubt, don’t carry out the work and seek professional advice.