Use extreme care to avoid serious injury or death
Gutter cleaning, hanging and removing holiday lights, getting Frisbees off the roof—these, and many other activities we do at home, may require the use of a portable ladder.
But while it might be the right tool for the job, the wrong moves when using it could spell disaster.
Each year in the United States, more than 500,000 people are treated—and about 300 people die—from ladder-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Unfortunately, ladder-involved deaths and injuries in the home are a reality. Follow the safety tips below to help avoid catastrophe:
- Read and follow all labels/warnings on the ladder.
- Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment.
- Inspect the ladder: Don’t use it if it’s damaged or missing parts.
- When climbing, always maintain a three-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) on the ladder. Keep your body near the middle of each step and always face the ladder while climbing and working—do not overreach from this position.
- Make sure your ladder is free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps, or feet.
- Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
- Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface.
- 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 it.
- An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support (see infographic below).
- Use the proper angle for ladder setup: Place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface (see infographic below).
- Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
- Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Don’t expose metal ladders to acid or alkali materials that can corrode them and reduce their strength.
- Do not stand on the top three rungs of single or extension ladders.
If you prefer to bring in a contractor to help you with jobs involving ladders, you can find one or check a license at http://www.cslb.ca.gov.