In many occupations, ladder use is a necessity. You could be a roofer who climbs to at least 10 feet every day. You could be a janitor who occasionally has to use a ladder to change lightbulbs. Even retail workers and teachers have to use them to get items down from high shelves.
The point is that ladders are common for many workers, and yet this is precisely the problem. Because they’re so common and used so often, people sometimes fail to think about how dangerous they are. Since a ladder fall can be deadly, or lead to a traumatic injury, you have to consider this danger every time you climb.
How you can stay safe
Acknowledging the danger is the first step. The second is knowing how to reduce that danger if possible. These safety tips will help:
- Keep your body perfectly centered at all times. Leaning to the side vastly increases the odds of a fall.
- Remember that you should only climb near the top, but never all the way onto the top platform or the rung below it.
- Always use the ladder’s devices as intended. For instance, a shelf for a paint can should never be used as a step.
- Have someone else help by holding the ladder steady if you’re at all unsure of its stability.
- Double-check the braces between the legs of a stepladder. They should extend and lock in a downward position.
- Only use a stepladder with the legs open, not with the ladder folded closed. For a job like that, use an extension ladder.
- If you’re working around power lines, don’t do it on a metal ladder. Even if you have the right ladder, keep a close eye on the lines.
- Check the angle at which you lead a ladder against the wall. It should be neither too sharp nor too shallow.
- Look for potential defects and damage when setting the ladder up.
- Climb without anything in your hands so that you can properly grip the rungs on the way up.
You can reduce your odds of a fall with these tips, but one could still happen. Injured workers need to know their legal rights.