Do you have an old ladder stored in the corner of your garage somewhere? A lot of people have them sitting around and rarely use them. Well, before you pull that ladder out and use it to climb up on the roof, take a look at these three important ladder safety tips.
1. Always Inspect the Ladder Before Using It
This is especially important if you don’t use the ladder frequently. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a ladder that could make it unsafe.
The first thing that you should look for is cracks, especially if the ladder is made of wood. Cracks can appear on both the sides and rungs of the ladder, so be sure to inspect it thoroughly. Also look for pieces of wood that seem to be splintering off. If the ladder has rope, check that for signs of wear as well.
Another thing to check is the hinges and locks. Are they loose, worn, rusty, or missing altogether? If so, the ladder is not safe enough to use. You should also make sure that hinges and locks are fully engaged before stepping onto the ladder.
Finally, check any other parts of the ladder for signs of wear. Look for loose bolts, nails, and screws. Check any non-slip tread to make sure that it isn’t missing or worn. Finally, make sure that the ladder doesn’t feel wobbly.
Check out this checklist for a detailed list of things to look for before stepping onto your ladder.
2. Place the Ladder on a Stable Surface
No matter what size ladder you’re using, it’s important to make sure that it is secure before you decide to climb up it. The most important thing to consider is the surface on which the ladder is placed. Choose a spot that is firm and level for the ladder’s base. This will prevent it from moving or wobbling once you put your weight on it. You should also inspect the surface for anything that could cause the bottom of the ladder to slip, such as water or other liquids.
The top of the ladder is important as well. You want a firm surface that will keep the top of the ladder in place as you climb up. Also, the top of your ladder should extend above your target by at least 3 feet. This will prevent you from climbing too high on the ladder and losing your balance.
Finally, make sure that the ladder is at a safe angle. The ladder should have instructions specifying what angle is safest for that particular model. If not, check out this diagram to get an idea of what a safe ladder angle should look like.
3. Don’t Carry Too Much While Climbing the Ladder
All ladders have a weight capacity, and that is something that you need to consider before you climb up. Even if you are strong enough to carry something, the ladder might not be. Be sure to check the manufacturer guidelines for the ladder’s weight capacity (don’t forget to take your own weight into account!). If you aren’t sure, divide things into smaller loads to be safe.
Also, make sure that whatever you’re carrying isn’t going to throw off your balance as you climb. An item that is light but bulky could be just as dangerous if it causes you or the ladder to teeter is you make your ascent. You should be able to keep your body close to the ladder at all times.
Finally, make sure that whatever you’re carrying can be carried with one hand so that you can maintain three points of contact with the ladder: both feet and one hand. Otherwise, your climb will not be safe.