Talk about a useful tool. Ladders get you up to the task so easily.
And because they are necessary and common, they can be taken for granted. That’s a problem, because close to 25,000 workers were injured in falls from ladders in one recent year, and more than 100 died due to falls from ladders. In fact, ladder-related injuries cost about $24 billion a year.
Your safety begins before you climb, says the National Safety Council. Here are some important things to consider first:
Is this the right ladder? Consider your weight and the weight of the load. Different types have load capacities of 200 to 375 pounds.
Because aluminum and metal conduct electricity, they shouldn’t be used near power lines or live electrical wires. Use a dry wood or fiberglass ladder instead.
Is the ladder in good condition? Check it out to make sure all parts are in good working order. Do it every time you use the ladder. Be sure it can be locked in place, rungs and steps are intact and clean and that nuts and bolts are tight. The most common mistake is not keeping the ladder in repair.
Is the set-up right? The feet should be on firm, even ground. The bottom of the ladder should be 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet to the top. Example: If it touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, it should be 4 feet from the wall. When climbing on a roof, the ladder should extend 3 feet higher than the roof.
Is my climbing technique safe?
* Always face the ladder when climbing and stay in the center of the rails.
* Maintain three points of contact with the ladder: two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. Carry tools in a tool belt and if material must be handled, raise or lower it with a rope.
* Never climb higher than the third rung from the top of an extension ladder or the second step from the top of a stepladder.
* Never try to “walk” a ladder while standing on it. Climb down and reposition it.
* Carry it parallel to the ground and hold it in the middle so you can balance the load. Always carry stepladders in the closed position.