Back to Basics: Ladder Safety
Check the Integrity of the Ladder
Most ladders are built to last and require minimal maintenance. However, they should be quickly inspected before each use just to be on the safe side. This is particularly true when using older ladders that can lose their structural integrity over time. Check the frame, the feet, the pulleys and ropes, latches, steps and any other component of your ladder. Look for corrosion, weak spots, cracks, loose parts, misaligned components and broken or damaged feet.
This will help to identify problems that could pose a safety hazard as you are climbing and working on your ladder. Use common sense and don’t climb a ladder that is marginal in terms of being able to hold your weight and remain anchored in place.
Check the Terrain
It is imperative that you place a ladder on a firm, level surface in order to prevent it from slipping or tipping over. Some uneven patches of ground are fine as long as the ladder does not wiggle around too much as you test it out. If you are working at a spot that has poor terrain, and you can’t move the ladder to a better place, then you will need to brace the ground before you start climbing.
Consider filling in the uneven terrain with dirt or gravel before placing a strong piece of plywood on top. Then you can position the ladder and get to work without worrying so much about it falling down. This is just one example of many ways that you can easily build a good foundation for the ladder, but the important thing is to make sure that you are working on stable ground.
Check for Obstacles
Take a few seconds and scan the area around where you will be working to identify any obstacles that may either get in the way or create a safety hazard. Consider everything from tree branches to landscaping near the bottom. Look up to make sure that you won’t come into contact with power or utility lines.
You also want to make sure that the ladder is the appropriate size for the job at hand. You also need to be able to rest the top against where you will be stepping off or leaning from. Always add another couple of feet of ladder above where you will be working to give you some room to maneuver. Check to ensure that the ladder will be resting against a smooth and sturdy surface to reduce the chances of slippage as well.
You want to make sure that the area around the ladder is clear so that people don’t get injured from falling objects as you carry them. You should also take steps to prevent objects such as vehicles, parts of the house or landscaping decorations from being damaged as well.
Finally, try to always use a ladder with another person who can be your eyes and ears on the ground. They can also help to stabilize the ladder as you climb and move it to a different spot as you work if necessary. They can also pick up the ladder if it falls, and this will prevent you from being stranded while you wait for your calls for help to be heard.
There is almost no reason why anyone should get injured or killed from a ladder-related incident. Follow these guidelines and think of other things that should be considered before climbing a ladder in order to protect yourself and others.