Don’t become a ladder statistic! With the right knowledge, a ladder is an indispensable tool for all manner of DIY, trade and industrial jobs. The incorrect usage of a ladder can lead to nasty accidents and unfortunately can cause serious accidents or even death.
With Spring on it’s way, it is traditional for Spring cleaning to begin in homes across the country. The brightness of the sun can show up all manner of things that need attention that the darkness of Winter has covered up. From cobwebs in high corners, to drab looking paint, Spring cleaning nearly always ends up with a list of DIY tasks.
Of course outside is no different. At this time of year, bushes and hedges are showing signs of life and the Winter growth can now be safely cut back. In the same way you take care with gardening equipment, you need to take care when using ladders outside.
Whether you use a ladder indoors or outdoors, each area presents different hazards that you should be aware of before you use your ladder. Here at BPS Access Solutions, we present a list of the most common accidents that occur with ladders:
Common mistakes made with ladders that can lead to an accident
Wrong ladder in use
This is by far one of the most common reasons for accidents to occur on ladders. In nearly every case the user knows they are taking a dangerous risk, never take a risk it can cost you far more than the purchase of the right ladder. From ladders balanced against tree trunks, to the wrong ladder size being used all manner of things can go wrong when using an incorrect ladder.
If you carry out several tasks around your home and garden, it will be worth your while investing in a multi purpose ladder which will take care of virtually every ladder need you could have from a step ladder to an extension ladder.
If you work near to sources of power, it is worth investing in a fibreglass ladder to protect against electrical shock/ Aluminium ladders are not suitable for use near electrical power sources.
No inspection carried out prior to use
It is important to carry out an inspection of your ladder before you begin to use it. In particular check the rungs and side rails for damage or missing parts. Ensure that the locks are in place and in good condition and check that the feet are intact and free of damage. Remember that dirt such as mud and leaves on the ladder can cause the ladder or you to slip so remember to clean off any excess dirt before using it.
Never use a ladder which you suspect is unsafe
Twists and distortions on aluminium ladders are extremely dangerous. Never use a ladder which has visible damage. Even a ladder that has been dropped which shows no visible damage should not be used. For those of you who still use a wooden ladder, it is worth noting that cracks and splits can often hide under paint. Wooden ladders should ideally be upgrading to the more modern aluminium models.
Never feel pressured to use a ladder you feel is unsafe. Ask for another ladder for your task.
Ladder placed on a dangerous surface
Ladders should always be placed on a solid flat surface. Never take a risk and hope for the best, this is when accidents happen. Always position your ladder on the ground, never from a location such as a flat roof. Always ensure that the ladder is placed so the feet are in direct contact with the ground that is free of leaves, sand or other debris.
Always position the ladder correctly – never too close or too far away from your work.
Ladder placed in a dangerous location
If you are carrying out work in a doorway or in a location where someone could walk into you, it would be a good idea to display some signage to warn people that you are there. Lock access doors so people do not accidentally open them.
Not using both hands to climb the ladder
Both hands need to be free when climbing a ladder. Carry tools in a tool belt or hoist them up in a bucket after you climb. Never climb the top two rungs of a ladder as this could cause the ladder to tip.
Always place the ladder where you need it. Never take a chance by over reaching – this could tip the ladder. Also avoid sudden unnecessary movements as this could also cause the ladder to tip. If you are working in a larger area such as when cleaning fascias, a scaffold tower may be a better option than a ladder.
Being under the influence
Never use a ladder when under the influence of medication or alcohol. If you feel unwell do not attempt to use your ladder. It is important that you are alert when using a ladder.
Only one person at a time!
Never allow more than one person to use a ladder at the same time. This could exceed its weight allowance causing the ladder to buckle or become unsafe.
Ladders left to their own devices on a roof rack or in poor conditions can become dangerous. Store your ladder away from heat and dampness and away from where it could be tampered with. A garage is a good place to store ladders but many ladders now fold down to compact sizes – our telescopic ladders and multi purpose ladders fold down small enough to fit in a cupboard or your car boot!
Always practice safe procedures
Ladders of all sizes can be dangerous. It doesn’t matter whether you are using a step ladder or an extension ladder, you need to practice safe ladder usage. Whether you are at home or in the workplace the principles are always the same. Taking the extra time when using ladders is worth the effort and may even save your life.
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