Ladders are one of the most used and, consequently, miss-used tools on the homestead. Here are a few safety tips for safe ladder use:
- Are you fit for duty? If you are exhausted, drowsy, sick, etc. you should ask yourself, “Am I in good enough shape to do this chore?” Remember, one slip and you could be out of commission for months and see your money and dreams wither and die. I had an employee fall from a 4′ tall ladder. He fractured his skull and nearly died. He didn’t think he was going to get hurt that day, either.
- Inspect your ladder – no brainer – make sure there are no cracks, everything is tight and secure, etc.
- When you inspect the ladder, ask yourself if you have enough ladder to do the job. Is it sturdy enough to handle the load of yourself, tools, and materials? Is it long / tall enough? Remember, if you are using a step ladder, the top and top step cannot be used to climb or stand upon.
- Set up your ladder on a firm, level surface. If you are using an extension ladder, secure it at the top at a minimum, and the best practice is to secure it top and bottom.
- Use a pull rope instead of carrying tools up the ladder. In this picture my son and I are repairing the barn roof. Instead of carrying the sheets of tin up the ladder, he is tieing them and I am hoisting them. He has taken his gloves off to tie the rope.
- Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.
- Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
- An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface should extend at least 3 feet above the point of support. Do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
- Avoid electrical hazards! – Look for overhead power lines before handling a ladder. Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines!
- Never lean a step ladder and use it like an extension ladder.