10 Precautions You Must Take While Using A Step Ladder

A Step Ladder

Almost every house has a step ladder for some quick tasks like replacing a bulb or reaching out to high places. Although it’s handy, ladder accidents are common and can cost you some bones if you’re not careful while using them. It’s best to use ladders for simple, easy-to-access jobs that would take a short duration of time. Don’t use a ladder for tedious jobs or to reach out to places beyond clear view. We list 10 precautions that you should take while using a ladder. 

  1. Choose the right ladder

Yes. It all starts with the choice of the right type of step ladder. Firstly check for the maximum weight load capacity of the ladder. It should exceed the total weight that it would be carrying. You can easily estimate this by adding the weight of the person using the ladder and the clothes and wares carried by the person. Make the estimate at the higher end so that anyone can use it. Secondly, choose the material of the ladder. Wooden ladders are great for indoor work but not outdoors and can be affected by moisture. Aluminum ladders are lightweight but never do electrical work on these ladders as aluminum conducts electricity. Fiberglass ladders are weather-resistant and more long-lasting than aluminum ladders. However, they are heavy and expensive. So choose wisely. 

  • Ladder inspection 

Check the ladder like you check your clothes in a trial room before purchasing. Is the base or ladder foot sturdy? Does the ladder stay firm and not sway from its place? Any bends or breaks at any joint? Loose hinges or screws? Are the side rails intact? Greasy or slippery paint that could be dangerous? Paint or stickers used for hiding defects (excludes safety labels)? Check for anything that leaves you second-guessing the safety of the ladder. You should feel confident while mounting it and not be in two minds. 

  • Location inspection 

Before you set up your ladder, check that there are no obstacles like branches or electrical wires. Consider weather conditions like snow, rain, or ice that can cause the ladder to slip or cause a wet rung from which your foot can slip. If you are using a ladder near a door or entrance, use safety markers or have a person assisting you, so that a person approaching from the blindside knows that someone is working on the other side. 

  • Placing of the ladder

Always place the step ladder on a firm, leveled, stable surface. The ladder feet should be in complete contact with the surface as gaps can make the ladder wobbly. If you are using the ladder on soft ground, use a stabilizer or anti-slip guards to make it stable. Instead of placing a ladder against a wall or a building, open your ladder fully so that the spreaders are open at their maximum limit. This will ensure that your ladder is sturdy and suitable for climbing. 

  • The right shoes and clothing

Slippery shoes like flip-flops, leather soles, or backless shoes are a strict no-no for climbing ladders. Wear slip-resistant shoes. Clothing should be comfortable but not too loose so that it might get caught in ladder parts. 

  • No leaning

Leaning from the ladder to reach a farther spot may seem like a shortcut, but many ladder accidents happen because of this. When you lean away, it shifts the weight and stability of the ladder and can cause a crash. It’s better to put in some effort, climb down, and move the ladder to the place you need than risk an accident.  

  • Maintaining 3-point contact

3-point contact means three of your four limbs should be touching the ladder. This could be two feet, one hand, or both hands and one foot. Maintain this at all times, and you’ll significantly reduce the chances of an accident. Keep your stomach or abdomen touching between the rails as you climb or work on the ladder. 

  • Do not carry tools and equipment in your hands

Firstly, see that you don’t exceed the load limit of the ladder while carrying tools on it. Secondly, use a tool organizer like a tool belt to carry the tools along with you. If you have heavier items like a paint bucket, let someone hand them over to you than carrying them yourself. Carrying tools in your hand, especially many of them can affect your maintaining the 3-point contact, and you can make the ladder unstable. 

  • Make sure you are in the proper health and state of mind

Consider age and health concerns while climbing a ladder. If you feel dizzy and off-balance, do not push yourself to climb the ladder. Instead, get someone else to do the task. You should never climb a ladder while intoxicated or suffering from conditions like vertigo or migraine. 

  1. Climb down safely

While most of us are cautious while climbing up and working on the ladder, the sense of relief that comes with completing the task can make one lose alertness. Descend from the ladder as cautiously as you did while climbing up. Maintain the 3-point contact while climbing down and face the ladder. Don’t be in a hurry or make sudden movements. Remember that safety precautions apply as long as you are on the ladder, whether climbing up or down. 

That sums up the precautionary measures you should take while climbing a step ladder. Even if you use a ladder on a regular basis as a mechanic or construction worker, you should never forget the safety measures.