Safety Center

Ladder Safety is More Than Hanging On

Fall is a time when many people are busy doing work around the outside of their homes in preparation for the winter. Whether, it's cleaning gutters or trimming tree branches, if you plan to go up a ladder, here are eight tips to help ensure you use it safely.

Choice: Determine the proper ladder depending on the job at hand (single or A frame ladder for tasks that don't require elevation higher than 8 or 10 feet vs. an extension ladder for higher elevations) and who will be using it (weight limit).

Inspection: Be sure the rungs are clean and have no slippery or oily areas. Before each use, look for corrosion, splinters and cracks (if it's a wood ladder), bent rungs, and that all working parts (bolts, rivets, ropes) are functional and have not been compromised. If any of these conditions are present, be sure to properly dispose of the ladder (dismantle it to make it impossible to use). If you don't, you could be liable should someone use it and get injured.

Environmental Scan: Check for any nearby electrical wires or other hazards. Never use the ladder on a windy or inclement day. Don't climb if you're not feeling well or on medication that could affect your balance.

Footwear: Wear proper boots or shoes that are not wet, greasy, or oily to give you firm footing on the rungs.

Foundation: Place the ladder on a stable, level surface clear of debris. Ensure the base of the ladder is one foot away from the surface on which it is resting for every four feet of extension. If your ladder is extended eight feet, it should be two feet away from the surface.

Climbing: Before stepping on the ladder, make sure all latches and locks are secured. As you ascend, face the ladder and keep your body centered. Maintain three points of contact (one hand and two feet, or two feet and one hand) at all times when on the ladder. Always grip the rungs, not the ladder's sides and never climb higher than the fourth rung from the top of the ladder.

Movement: Don't overreach in either direction or try to move the ladder while you're on it. Descend and then safely move it to a more convenient spot for the task at hand.

Secure Tools: Avoid climbing with tools in your hands. Attach them to a tool belt or use a towline to safely pull up tools, so you are not distracted while climbing. Ask a friend or neighbor to assist.

NJM Insurance Group's Commitment to Safety

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References:

  1. National Safety Council (NSC). Ladder Safety One Rung at a Time. www.nsc.org
  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Portable Ladder Safety. www.osha.gov
  3. American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Using Ladders at Home Can Be Just as Dangerous as at Work. blog.ansi.org

Our Safety Center pages are filled with tips related to the safety and maintenance of your home and autos. The information contained in these articles should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.