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If you've never used a step ladder before, you might be wondering if there are any specific safety measures you're supposed to take. To help you keep risk at a minimum, here are eight step ladder do's and don'ts:
DO inspect the step ladder before use.
Before you start climbing any kind of ladder, you should give it a quick visual inspection to make sure it's safe to use. Check for signs of damage - is your step ladder in good condition? Does it look sturdy enough to support your weight?
See also: How often should ladders be inspected?
DON'T use a step ladder as a leaning ladder.
Step ladders are designed to stand on their own, with no need for external support. Using a step ladder as if it were a leaning ladder is dangerous - always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the specific ladder you've got.
See also: Can a step ladder be leaned against a wall?
DO make sure the ladder's feet are firmly on the ground.
For your safety, you should only climb a step ladder that is standing on a solid, level surface. If one or more feet aren't touching the ground, the ladder will wobble as your climbing it and may even topple over.
Need a ladder that you can safely use on stairs? Try our multi-purpose ladders.
DON'T overload the step ladder.
Every ladder has a weight load limit (commonly 150kg). It's very important to ensure that you're not exceeding that limit - and remember, it's not just your body weight that counts towards the weight limit. If you're carrying any tools or equipment up the ladder with you, these will add to the total load the ladder is supporting.
See also: Step ladders with a high weight capacity
DO maintain three points of contact at all times.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) recommends maintaining three points of contact when you're standing on a ladder. This will usually mean keeping both feet and one hand on the ladder while you work.
Read the HSE's Safe Use of Ladders & Step Ladders guide for more information.
DON'T stretch out too far when trying to reach something.
Over-reaching is dangerous. If you're stretching out to one side, this puts an uneven load on the ladder, which makes it more likely to tip over.
If you can't reach an important spot comfortably, get off the ladder and reposition it so that you can.
DO take it slow and steady!
Rushing up and down the ladder will increase your risk of having an accident. Don't hurry - when you're ascending or descending a step ladder, the important thing is to take your time and stay safe.
DON'T stand on the top three rungs of the step ladder.
You should not place your feet on the top three rungs of a step ladder, as this may mean that there's not enough ladder above you to maintain the all-important three points of contact. (Note that this only applies to swingback step ladders, not platform step ladders.)
For example, if your step ladder has six treads, you should only place your feet on the lower three treads. The higher treads are for you to hold on to with your hands.
See also: Can you stand on the top tread of a step ladder?
Read More: How to Use a Step Ladder Safely