Using an extension ladder is a great way to get a bit of extra height when you're working on hard-to-reach areas.

But as with any ladder, it's important to be careful when you're using an extension ladder. Safety measures are always important, but when you're working at the kind of heights that only an extending ladder can reach, they really can make the difference between life and death.

Extending Ladder

Pictured: Professional Double Extension Ladder

Here's our step-by-step guide to help you stay safe while using an extension ladder.

 

What to do before using an extension ladder

  • Inspect the ladder thoroughly to ensure it's safe to use.

  • Check the ladder's weight limit and make sure you're not going to overload it.

  • Make sure the ladder's side rails aren't damaged.

  • Check the rungs - are any of them loose, bent, or missing?

  • Check the ladder's feet - will they provide adequate traction to stop the ladder slipping?

  • Make sure your extension ladder is tall enough for the task at hand.

 

Setting up your extension ladder

When you lean your ladder up against the wall, follow the 1 in 4 rule: 1 unit out for every 4 units up.

For instance, if the distance between the ground and the point where your ladder makes contact with the wall is 4 metres, you will need to position the base of the ladder 1 metre out from the wall. Stabilise the ladder before climbing up it (for example, tie the ladder to keep it from slipping).

When using an extension ladder to reach higher points, make sure the extending section is locked in place before you use the ladder.

And obviously, don't place your ladder on a pallet, van, or any other movable surface!

 

Staying safe while you're on the ladder

  • Minimise the load - only carry extra weight (e.g. tools, paints) up the ladder if you need them.

  • Don't over-reach while on the ladder - if you're struggling to reach, get off the ladder and reposition it.

  • Don't rush - work slowly and avoid taking risks

  • When possible, keep your hands free to grip the ladder - a tool belt is a good way to achieve this

  • Don't attempt to adjust or extend the ladder while you're on it!

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