Extension Ladder Safety Tips
You’re climbing your extension ladder to get to the roof to do a job when all of a sudden it buckles from under you and you fall onto the pavement below. Luckily you weren’t too high up yet when the ladder collapsed so you didn’t get as hurt as badly you could have.
When you work in construction or any contract work, extension ladders are one of your biggest assets to getting your job done. They can also be a huge hazard if you aren’t aware of all the risks. Keep reading for a few extension ladder safety tips so you can get paid without getting a scratch on you.
1. Train Your Employees in the Dos and Do-Nots
The first step of extension ladder safety is being trained to use one. To this end, if you own your very own construction company you should provide each of your employees with a handbook and have the ladder dos and do-nots discussion with them.
Keep both your hands and a foot on the ladder at all times when you’re climbing. Don’t pull one of your hands away for any reason or climb with a tool in one hand. When you’re ascending, or descending make sure that you are always facing the ladder.
When you’re climbing it’s easy to accidentally tip the ladder sideways when you’re at the top or bottom. You just have to take special care to not pull the base out of the ground.
The ladder needs to be on a secure surface. Don’t place it on top of any boxes or put it in loose soil. Every ladder has a recommended weight that they can hold, never exceed this weight.
This goes without saying but never tie two ladders together to make it go out longer. It will be top heavy and will tip over or just come untied. Don’t put the ladder on the ground and try and climb it horizontally.
2. Place it at an Angle
There is a certain angle that you have to place the ladder at or it won’t be safe to climb. If it’s too steep, then you’ll find yourself tipping backward which will end with your back on the concrete with a ladder on you.
If you angle it too much then the bottom could side out and send you toppling as well. If there is something in the way that’s stopping you from getting the ladder at the right angle then take the time to make the ladder extra secure. You don’t want to take any chances.
3. Make Sure the Feet are Secure
You don’t want the feet to slip when you’re on the ladder. To stop this from happening you need to make sure the feet are nice secure. If you’re on the soil you can do this by flipping the ladder shoes so the Spurs can stick into the ground and hold it in place.
If you’re working on a deck then things get a little trickier. You’ll have to screw down a cleat so if the ladder does slide back, it will be there to catch it. When putting the ladder on a deck, be sure to sweep away any dirt because the ladder could still fall sideways due to slippery sand.
If you’re still worried that the ladder may slip, you can use a rope to tie the legs to the wall.
Create a Level Base
A crucial part of making sure the legs are secure is to create a level ground. If one of the legs are higher or lower than the other then you will topple sideways. A ladder isn’t the same as a table though, you can’t just stick a book under one of the legs and call it done.
What you can do is dig a small trench to set the legs in. This will create a nice, level base. If you’re working on a hard surface, then you can buy leg stabilising extensions.
4. Secure the Top of the Ladder
It’s not enough to stabilize the bottom of the ladder, you also have to work to make sure the top is secure as well. There are mitts that you can buy that will slip over the tops of the ladder so it can get a better hold on the wall it’s against.
The best accessory you can buy though is a ladder stabilizer. It’s a bar that holds onto the ladder and suction cups to the house. The bar structure stops the ladder from going sideways as well as evens out your weight so you don’t put all your force on the wall the ladder is against and cause any damage.
The ladder stabilizer also allows the ladder to lean a little off the wall so you won’t be trying to do your job while being plastered to a building.
Tie the Top Down if You Have to
Like with the legs, if you still feel like your ladder may tip sideways, it’s perfectly acceptable to tie the top of the ladder to the wall it’s leaning on. You’ll have to screw a few holes in the wall but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Setting Up Your Extension Ladder for Safety
Extension ladders are a huge part of most construction jobs but like anything in construction, if you aren’t careful you can seriously get hurt. Use these extension ladder safety tips to get the job done without any unfortunate falls.
Speaking of safety, the one piece of safety gear that you’re always going to need is a good pair of work gloves. Browse through our products to see if we have the perfect pair for you.