A ladder is a great way to complete low-risk, short-duration work at height. But before you go up that ladder, it's important to make sure that it's nice and stable - the last thing you want is a ladder that's going to slip outwards or sideways while you're at the top of it!
To help you stop your ladder from slipping, here are some tips from the experts here at Ladders UK Direct.
Before you begin...
It's important to carry out a thorough risk assessment before you carry out any work on a ladder. Be sure to comply with The Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Before you even set up the ladder, do everything you can to eliminate unnecessary risks. Is the ground wet or uneven? Is the ladder itself damaged? Are there any hazards (such as overhead power lines) in the way? If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', you may need to reconsider what you're doing.
Also, ask yourself whether a leaning ladder is really the right tool for the job: if you're going to be working at height for more than 30 minutes and/or carrying out complicated tasks that will make it difficult to keep both feet and at least one hand on the ladder at all times, consider using a different height access solution (e.g. scaffolding) instead.
See the Health & Safety Executive's Safe use of ladders and stepladders guidelines for more information.
Position your ladder at a 75-degree angle
You can minimise the risk of ladder slippage by following the '1 in 4' rule, which is as follows: 1 unit out for every 4 units up.
For example, if your ladder makes contact with the wall at a height of 4 metres, the base of the ladder should be placed 1 metre out from the wall. This will give you a nice 75° angle that's less likely to slip.
IMPORTANT: Avoid leaning your ladder against guttering or other weak surfaces! Make sure the structure you're leaning on is sturdy and stable.
How to stabilise a ladder
Before you start climbing the ladder, you'll need to find a way to secure it.
Here are your options, from most to least safe:
- Hook or tie your ladder (both stiles) to a sturdy anchor point to stop it from slipping.
- Use a ladder stability device specifically designed for this purpose.
- Wedge the ladder in to prevent it from moving around.
- As a last resort, ask somebody to 'foot' the ladder (hold it firmly in place) while you're using it. This is NOT recommended - as this story demonstrates, footing a ladder isn't always sufficient to prevent falls!
You can also use accessories like our ladder mat (pictured below) to help stabilise your ladder and further reduce the risk of slippage.
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