Gutter

SHORT ANSWER: No, it's not safe to lean a ladder against a gutter. Make sure you lean your ladder against a strong resting point that's sturdy enough to support it.

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Feet standing on a chair

If you need to change a light bulb or get something down from a high shelf, you might be tempted to just grab the nearest chair and stand on top of it in order to reach the required height.

But chairs and stools are designed to be sat on, not stood on. Even a sturdy-looking chair may not be stable enough to serve as a safe height access solution.

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Climbing a ladder

Unless you have a fear of heights, there's no reason to be afraid of using a ladder. A ladder isn't dangerous as long as it's in good condition and you use it safely.

Here's what you can do to minimise risk when using a ladder...

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Ladder 1 in 4 rule

The '1 in 4' rule (also known as the '4 to 1' rule) is a simple piece of guidance that you should always follow when you use a leaning ladder.

Here's the rule:

For every 4 feet of height, position the base of the ladder 1 foot away from the wall.

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Self-supporting step ladder

Step ladders are a type of self-supporting ladder. Unlike, say, an extension ladder - which must be leaned up against a wall or another surface that's sturdy enough to support it - a step ladder can stand up all on its own, without any additional support or stabilisation.

But here's a question that a lot of people ask: can a step ladder be leaned against a wall and used as a straight ladder if the situation demands it? Or should step ladders exclusively be used as self-supporting ladders?

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How to climb a ladder

A ladder can be a safe and effective means of working at height, but you have to be careful when ascending and descending. Rushing to go up or down a ladder may result in a nasty accident - and we've already covered the injuries that can come from falling off a ladder.

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Combination ladder in different configurations

If you've got a lot of different jobs to do - but you don't want to buy a lot of different ladders - then a combination ladder may be the ideal solution.

A combination ladder is a multi-use product that can be configured into a number of different shapes. For example, a 3-in-1 combination ladder might serve as a step ladder, an extension ladder, or a stairwell ladder depending on how you set it up.

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Injuries

In January 2020, a roofing company in Kent was fined more than £28,000 because a worker had fallen from a ladder and sustained serious back injuries. The company hadn't taken steps to ensure that the man would be able to maintain three points of contact with the ladder while working - a HSE inspector stated that the accident could have been prevented "by simply providing basic and inexpensive lifting aids".

Unfortunately, this story is far from unique. Just one month earlier, in December 2019, the owner of a painting and decorating company in Northamptonshire was sentenced to 160 hours of unpaid work (and ordered to pay more than £2,000 in costs) after one of his employees suffered a fall that left him paralysed from the chest down.

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Ladder leaning against wall

Ladders are very useful when you need to access a hard-to-reach area, but they can be dangerous if misused.

When you're on a ladder, be sure to avoid these 10 potentially risky behaviours:

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Step ladder

A common sight in both the home and the workplace, step ladders are incredibly versatile - they can be used for everything from plastering ceilings and cleaning windows to changing light bulbs and redecorating the living room.

Folding step ladders are generally quite safe to use. They are self-supporting, so you don't have to lean your ladder up against the wall, and the steps are reasonably comfortable to stand on.

That being said, working at height is always potentially hazardous, and even when you're using a step ladder, it's important to take certain precautions in order to minimise the risk of injury.

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