According to the Health and Safety Executive, roughly 40% of all on-the-job fatalities occur as a result of a fall from height.
This is particularly problematic in construction, with half of all fall-from-height deaths over the last five years occurring in the construction trade.
Meanwhile, just under 20% of all non-fatal injuries in the construction trade over the last five years were also a result of falling from height. Scary stuff!
Needless to say, knowing how to use a ladder safely is of vital importance and can quite literally save your life. Luckily, we've got some ladder safety tips that will help you do exactly that!
How to Use a Ladder Safely
Whether you're a professional roofer or an average Joe putting up the Christmas lights, you are putting yourself at risk when you climb up a ladder.
After all, gravity doesn't discriminate and the same dangers apply to all - so pros and amateurs alike should follow these ladder safety tips.
Use the right ladder
Before you begin work, always make sure that the ladder you are using is suitable for the task at hand.
To gauge whether or not your ladder is tall enough for your chosen endeavour, you should be able to safely access the area you need without standing on the top three rungs.
The ladder itself should extend at least one metre above where you are working to allow you ample hand and foot contact with the ladder at all times.
Check the stiles
The vertical parts of a ladder (i.e. the long parts on either side of the rungs) are known in the UK as stiles.
Before using a ladder, it's vitally important to inspect the stiles. Make sure they're in good condition with no splits, dents, or bends.
Even a small amount of damage to the stiles can seriously impact the structural integrity of the ladder, and may even cause the ladder to break mid-use.
Check the rungs
Much like the stiles, sturdy rungs are paramount when it comes to ensuring your ladder is fit for purpose.
If any of the rungs are bent, loose or missing entirely, take that as a tell-tale warning sign that your ladder is no longer usable.
Using a ladder that features dodgy or absent rungs will increase the likelihood of the ladder failing and could result in things going south fast.
Check the feet
A ladder's feet are found at the bottom of the stiles, typically adorned with rubber bases that feature a ridged pattern on the bottom of the caps.
If the feet are worn, damaged or missing entirely, this can lead to the underside of the ladder becoming slippery and losing its traction.
If this occurs while you are on the ladder, it could lead to disaster. As such, you should postpone use until the feet have been replaced.
Ladder safety and you
When you're using a ladder - even a brand new one - the way in which you engage with the ladder can have a dramatic effect on your personal safety.
Follow these ladder safety tips to make sure you're using your ladder correctly.
Don't overload the ladder
Most ladders are sturdy enough to support one's body weight. But they aren't indestructible, and each one is designed with a maximum weight limit in mind. One of our most important ladder safety tips is to never overload your ladder.
Always check the specifications of your ladder to avoid overloading it with too much weight, accounting for the weight of the worker's body plus any materials / equipment they will be carrying.
Carrying too much can put you off-balance and may cause you to fall. Be sensible when it comes to carrying loads up ladders and only carry what you can comfortably handle. It might be a good idea to invest in a tool belt to help you carry things safely up a ladder, for example.
SEE ALSO: Ladders with a high weight capacity
Setting up your ladder in an appropriate location for the task at hand should be a top priority.
If the area you need to access is even slightly outside of comfortable arm's reach, it can lead to a nasty fall.
One of our top ladder safety tips to avoid overreaching: make sure your belt buckle stays within the stiles of the ladder. Anything beyond that could put you at further risk.
We have more ladder safety tips on our blog, and if you need any help, please let us know and our customer service team will be happy to help.
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