Portable ladders offer a hassle-free method of carrying out work at greater heights and portable ladder safety and security are important. You’d think that after all the years that people have been using them, the pertinent safety considerations would be rather firmly ingrained in their thoughts. However, this is not the case. On the other hand, if one is to believe the statistics that show how many individuals are hurt or killed each year while using portable ladders, this is not the case.
The majority of injuries that people sustain occur as a result of falling. These injuries can range from relatively minor bruising and embarrassment to permanent disability and even death, and they can occur even from heights that are typically regarded to be relatively modest.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a quick look at some of the precautions you can take to keep yourself safe the next time you use a portable ladder.
The most frequent varieties of portable ladders are step ladders and “leaning” ladders, with the latter type being in either a single or extending form. Step ladders are the most prevalent type of portable ladder. The environment in which you intend to use the ladder will help establish which type is the most appropriate. To change a light globe on a wall-mounted lamp fixture, however, you could use either kind of ladder. This is in contrast to the situation in the middle of the room, where it would probably be impossible to use anything other than a step ladder.
The second thing that you need to think about is the height of the location that you wish to access. If the ladder is too short for the job, you won’t be able to reach it securely, and if it’s too long for the space in which you’re working, you might not be able to install it there at all.
In conclusion, if you are planning on performing electrical work, DO NOT use a metal ladder. Working with electricity alone presents a sufficient number of dangers; you do not need the additional danger of working at a height on a conductive ladder.
Choosing the appropriate ladder for the task at hand is the first step (no pun intended) in minimizing the risk of suffering an injury while doing the task.
Step ladders are more sturdy than leaning ladders, and they can be used securely in a stand-alone mode as long as the user adheres to the following instructions:
Check that the rungs, the side rails, and the anti-slip feet on the ladder are in good shape, that they are clean, and that they are not loose (or even missing).
Check that the bottoms of your shoes are clean and in good condition before you go out the door.
To prevent the ladder from collapsing in on itself, make sure the spreader bars are locked in the open position and that both sides of the ladder are extended to their full length.
Construct the ladder on a flat, solid surface; use lumber or other similar pads to adjust the surface level or provide support on unstable ground, making sure that both feet of the ladder are properly supported by a single pad during the entire process.
Do not erect the ladder in areas that can be entered by other people, such as in front of doors, unless such doors are locked.
It is dangerous for the ladder to have someone standing or climbing higher than the second highest rung.
At no point should you ever turn your back on the ladder but rather always work facing it.
There should never be more than one person at a time on the ladder.
If you intend to use tools, it is highly recommended that you have a tool tray attached to the top cap of the ladder.
Check that the ladder’s load capacity can handle your weight in addition to the weight of any equipment you plan to employ.
Single Side Ladders
The stability of these ladders is lower than that of step ladders, and although some of the safety criteria are the same as for step ladders, there are a few more elements that need to be in place to guarantee the safety of persons who use these kinds of ladders.
On extension ladders, the condition of the rungs, sidebars, and feet, as well as the extension locks and cams, needs to be inspected before use.
The angle of the ladder should be 1:4, which means that it should be positioned 1 unit away from the structure that it is supporting for every 4 units of height.
When working at heights larger than 6 meters, or around 20 feet, you should not utilize a portable ladder.
The very top of the ladder needs to be at least three rungs higher than the very top surface of the support structure, and it needs to be firmly connected.
It is necessary to secure the ladder’s footing in order to stop it from sliding away from the structure that is holding it. This is especially important to keep in mind in situations in which the top of the ladder is leaning against a vertical surface but cannot be safely attached to the surface itself.
Make sure that the feet of the ladder are adjusted correctly so that it does not tilt to the side.
Be mindful of any movement of persons or other traffic (cars, forklifts, etc.) in the area, and if required, block off access to the area.
At no point should your back be turned to the ladder while you are working from it.
Because it is important to keep three points of contact while ascending a ladder, you shouldn’t carry any tools or other equipment with you.
Do not climb higher than the third lowest rung of a ladder if the top of the ladder is resting against a vertical surface. Also, do not climb higher than the top supported rung of a ladder that extends beyond the top surface of a support structure.
Avoid extending your body from the side of the ladder more than half the width of the ladder itself.
It is safest to have only one person at a time on the ladder.
If you follow these fundamental safety procedures, there is a far lower chance that you will sustain injuries in the event of a fall from a ladder, despite the fact that nothing in life can be guaranteed.