How to ensure your own safety when clearing the gutters
Cleaning the gutter is a dirty, difficult and dangerous but essential job, and ensuring your gutters are clean prevents water damage to the roof and walls of your house.
Every year many people injure themselves whilst clearing their gutters, something which can be avoided by following some simple tips.
Always work from a secure and suitable platform when working at height. However, if a platform is not suitable for your application then you should consider other options such as ladders.
Select the most suitable ladder for the job. For a bungalow, a set of step ladders may suffice, but you will need extension ladders for two storey buildings. We do not recommend that you attempt to clear out three storey guttering and above by yourself, and leave that job to a professional; your window cleaner may offer this service.
Tip: Always ensure you have a good pair of plastic waterproof gloves, as these will protect your hands from sharp debris as well as rough surfaces.
Use a ladder stand off
Once you've selected your ladder, you should think about ways to make it safer. One solution is to attach a ladder standoff.
Plastic gutters are often fitted very close to roof tiles, making it very difficult to get your hand inside to clear out debris. Using an Easi-Dec ladder standoff will allow your ladder to stand away from the wall preventing any damage to your gutter, give you a better working position, and will make your ladder more stable meaning the work will be safer.
Stand offs attach to a ladder and keep it around 300mm from the wall, this gives you more space to access the gutter without crushing it allowing you to clear it much more easily; it will also increase ladder stability and help you avoid other obstructions on the outside of your building.
Ladder spurs are also another option to consider if you do not have anyone footing your ladder. Spurs can be fitted to most ladders and are designed to increase the base width of your ladder, significantly reducing the chances of it slipping sideways. This makes any work much safer.
However, make sure you are able to place them on firm ground, as they will be a liability otherwise.
Where possible you should always use both the ladder spurs and ladder stand offs together for extra peace of mind.
The main points to consider are:
> Set any extension ladders up at the right angle: 75˚ Angle/1:4 Ratio,
> Ensure the stepladder spreaders are locked down and in the straight position,
> Assess the risks before stepping on to the ladder, following the HSE Guidelines on Ladder Safety and Working from Ladders,
> If you're using a pressure washer make sure the recoil does not push you off the ladder. We strongly advise you to use the Easi-Dec Ladder Safety Kit in this scenario,
> Place the ladder in a new position when needed as you move along the guttering, and do not lean over the edge to carry out the work. Leaning and overreaching are some of the main causes of ladder injuries,
> Make sure the ladder is long enough for the job and don't ever stand on the top three rungs.
To find out more about Easi-Dec’s ladder safety solutions, click here.