With light nights and warmer weather upon us, we are urging people to be careful in the use of ladders. Barmy Summer nights brings out ladder users in their droves – and with them the less experienced ladder users.
Using a ladder might seem simple enough, however a lot can go wrong before you even start using it. Before you even move the ladder from it’s storage place, make sure you are confident in using it. If you are not confident, do not use a ladder.
Inspect your ladder before using it
Even the more experienced ladder users often become complacent and miss out this important step. Whether your ladder is in use daily or occasionally always check for damage prior to use. This includes checking for damage to the sides, steps and making sure the locking mechanisms are working as they should.
If your ladder has been dropped or shows any sign of damage, do not use it.
How to use a leaning ladder safely
A leaning ladder is a ladder that has to be leant against a wall in order to use it. Such examples include extension ladders, multi purpose ladders and telescopic ladders.
- Positioning your ladder safely
It is essential to lean your ladder at the right angle before climbing it. HSE recommends ladders should be at a 76 degree angle to prevent tipping or sliding. Never adjust the angle to try to achieve a higher or lower working height. Ladders should be able to comfortably reach the job you are working on without having to adjust the angle.
The most common reason ladder accidents occur is due to an incorrect angle being used. Our unique ladder angle ensures that you will always use the correct and safe pitch of 76 degrees.
Never try to obtain extra height by balancing your ladder on items such as pallets, bricks or from a scaffold tower.
- Climbing the ladder safely
Both hands should be used to climb a ladder. Always climb a ladder with the ladder facing you keeping one hand on each side of the rungs. Wear a tool belt rather than carrying tools in your hands as your hands need to firmly grip the sides. You should only let go of the ladder as briefly as possible once you have climbed to the required height in order to carry out your job. Never work on the last three rungs of the ladder.
- Never over lean
Never take risks with ladders. If you find yourself leaning to reach other parts of the job, then you need to climb down the ladder and reposition it nearer. There is a test known as the ‘belt buckle test’. If you find your belt buckle is outside the rung area of the ladder then you are over leaning and risk falling or the ladder slipping. Avoiding stretching upwards also as you could lose your balance.
- Do not overload your ladder
All ladders come with a maximum weight capacity. Check the manufacturers instructions if you are not sure. Most of our ladders here at BPS Access Solutions have a maximum weight of 23.5 stones. Remember this is not just your own weight, but that of your tools also. Equipment and materials being carried can be heavier than what you think.
- Look out for overhead power lines
When carrying your ladder look out for overhead power lines. Remember electricity is a conductor of metal objects. Avoid working 6 horizontal metres to power lines – and never take anyone else’s word that they are ‘dead’ always treat power lines as if they are live. If you are an electrician carrying out electrical work at height, a fibreglass ladder would be a far safer option. Our fibreglass extension ladder is non-conductive up to 30,000 volts and could be a lifesaver should a mistake or accident occur.
- Keeping your ladder stable
There is never any guarantee that a ladder will never slip, however you can protect yourself further by tying your ladder to an upper support. Avoid tying your ladder to plastic objects such as gutters which could come away if the ladder slips.
Poor stability often accounts for ladder accidents and is often due to uneven ground where the ladder is placed. Using a levelling mat can help alleviate this problem and can make positioning your ladder on uneven or sloping ground far safer. Our levelling mat also provides additional grip and prevents the ladder from sliding or slipping from beneath you.
Using a step ladder safely
Many people think that a step ladder is safer than a leaning ladder, however they can present the same dangers particularly if they are set up incorrectly.
- Check your step ladder is in contact with the ground
There is more scope for instability issues with step ladders, so be sure to check that all four feet are in contact with the ground.
- Only carry out light work
Avoid using heavy tools and materials when using a step ladder. They are designed for light work.
- Do not over reach
The over reach rules are the same on a step ladder – don’t over reach or stretch. Avoid using the top 3 steps unless there is a handrail provided.
- Ensure locking devices are enabled
Do not use the step ladder if you are in any doubt about it’s safety.
- Remember the 3 point contact rule
Keep both feet on the step ladder at all times and one hand. If both hands are needed, use the stepladder to support your body. Always work with the job facing you, never work from the side or leaning over.
Follow our safety tips….
and you will avoid a ladder accident this Summer. Always follow these safety tips regardless of when you use your ladder and you will avoid some of the most common ladder accidents.
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