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27 Apr 2020

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:

  1. Don't use a ladder that appears to be damaged. Before you get on the ladder, give it a quick visual inspection to make sure it is fit for use.

  2. Don't lean your ladder against a window or gutter. And the same goes for any other surface that might not be strong enough to support the ladder.

  3. Don't overreach or lean out to one side. Get off the ladder and reposition it instead.

  4. Don't climb higher than you need to. If you're standing on one of the ladder's topmost steps, you may need a taller ladder.

  5. Don't carry anything heavy up the ladder. The Health & Safety Executive advises carrying "light materials and tools" only. On a related note...

  6. Don't exceed the ladder's weight limit. If your weight would overload the ladder, use a ladder with a higher maximum load limit.

  7. Don't try to move or extend the ladder while you're standing on it. Get off the ladder so that you can make the necessary adjustments safely.

  8. Don't foot the ladder (except as a last resort). If your ladder needs to be secured, you should ideally tie it, or wedge it if this is not possible. 'Footing' a ladder should be viewed as an absolute last resort.

  9. Don't work side-on if you can avoid it. If possible, you should set up the ladder so that you're facing your work, not turning sideways.

  10. Don't rush. When ascending or descending a ladder, be careful and take your time. Rushing up and down the ladder increases your risk of having an accident.

If you're working with a step ladder, we recommend reading How to Use a Step Ladder Safely. If it's an extension ladder you're using, see How to Use an Extension Ladder.

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