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Ladder Safety
General Information
Using a ladder safely begins with choosing the right ladder for the job. Before starting a project and selecting the ladder to be used, consider these two most important criteria: how high are you going and what is the ground or surface on which the ladder will be placed. With that said, there are still many dangers associated with ladders. Each year more than 160,000 people see medical treatment at emergency rooms for ladder-related injuries.

Safety Tips (a partial list)
Underwriters Laboratories “Safety at Home” series offers these simple guidelines to help avoid injury (or worse) when using ladders:
  • Each ladder is different. Read the instructions. The first step to using any ladder safely is to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions. They will contain guidelines to help you use ladders more safely and effectively and to advise you about the weight and height limits of the ladder.
  • Choose wisely. Choose the proper ladder for the intended task. For example, if the ladder will be used near electrical sources, use a wooden or fiberglass ladder to reduce the possibility of electrical shock.
  • Inspect before you step. Make sure the ladder has been well maintained, the rungs are clean and all parts are intact. Never climb on a slippery or shaky ladder.
  • Make sure it’s secure. When planting the base of any ladder, place all feet on a firm, level surface, not on rocks or boards. Spreaders (the devices that hold the front and back sections of a stepladder in an open position) should be completely open and locked before any weight is placed on the ladder.
  • Ladder angle: don’t overdo it. When using an extension ladder, don’t place the ladder at too extreme of an angle. Remember the 4-to-1 rule. For every four feet of ladder height, the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall or object it is leaning against.
  • Look for the UL Mark. Always look for the familiar UL Mark before purchasing a ladder. This Mark means representative samples of that product have been tested and meet nationally recognized safety standards.
  • Size it right. Always use a ladder that is tall enough for the job at hand. A great number of ladder-related injuries are the result of using a ladder that is too short.
  • Get a belt – or a helper. Don’t carry equipment while climbing a ladder. Invest in a tool belt or have someone hand the equipment to you.
  • Face the ladder. Face the ladder when climbing up and down, keeping your body centered between both side rails.
  • Don’t get too ambitious. While up on the ladder, don’t overextend your reach and keep your weight evenly distributed.
  • Never move a ladder while standing on it. Always make sure people and equipment are off the ladder before moving or closing it.
  • Never stand on a ladder’s bucket shelf. Read and follow the warning stickers for the highest standing levels.

Underwriters Laboratories
Published in: Old-House Journal June/July 2011

10416 Watterson Trail   |   Jeffersontown, KY 40299   |   Ph: (502) 267-8333   |   Fx: (502) 267-0547
10416 Watterson Trail   |   Jeffersontown, KY 40299   |   Ph: (502) 267-8333   |   Fx: (502) 267-0547