Learning how to safely use ladders is crucial for workplace safety, and it’s a great way for homeowners to reduce the chance for injuries while handling minor projects around the home. Falling from ladders is a leading cause of downtime on the job, and instructing employees how to work while at heights is a proactive way to protect workers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when working at heights.
Choosing the Right Ladder
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that ladders are inspected before each use for damaged rungs or cracked rails. Using the right ladder for the job can prevent slips and falls by minimizing the need to stretch while at heights. Ladders are rated according to their weight and reach. Some models are designed specifically for commercial purposes and can safely carry more weight. Ladders are usually outfitted with a clear label on one of the rails that provides detailed information about the rating of a particular product. OSHA recommends that an extension ladder should be rated to carry four times the weight of the maximum intended load.
Creating a Solid Foundation
When using an extension or portable ladder, having a level surface can prevent the ladder from slipping or moving. Extension ladders are usually outfitted with adjustable feet that should be on a firm and solid footing. Ladders should never be placed on top of unstable items, like boxes or barrels.
Securing the Ladder’s Top
To prevent a ladder from moving along the top edge, it should extend at least three rungs above the contact point. When working on a building’s exterior, it is recommended that the ladder is securely fastened to a gutter or other type of anchor point. Both rails should sit square against the building at the proper angle. Ideally, an extension ladder’s base should be one quarter of the working height away from the wall.
Maintaining a Three-Point Contact
While working from a ladder, individuals should maintain contact with three points at all times. This means that two hands and a foot or two legs and a foot should be in contact with the rungs.