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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Don't overreach or lean out to one side. Get off the ladder and reposition it instead.
- 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.
- Don't carry anything heavy up the ladder. The Health & Safety Executive advises carrying "light materials and tools" only. On a related note...
- Don't exceed the ladder's weight limit. If your weight would overload the ladder, use a ladder with a higher maximum load limit.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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