As a DIY gal, I love tackling home improvements and one tool you can’t avoid is a good, trusty ladder. But did you know that one-hundred and sixty thousand injuries and three hundred deaths occur each year from accidents involving ladders?
Since March is National Ladder Safety Month, I thought I’d walk you through the most common mistakes people make, and with a little help from my friends at the American Ladder Institute, show you how to correct them!
5 Mistakes People Most Often Make with Ladders
1. The ladder was not the right size for the job.
There are obviously different types of ladders, and length is one of the determining factors to find the right one for the job. Today, we’ll be talking about 5 of the most common ladders. Let’s start with a step stool. Step stools are defined as ladders that are non-adjustable in length and 32-inches or less in overall size. The unique thing about step stools is that they are designed, so that the Top Cap as well as all steps can be climbed on. A good rule of thumb when using a ladder is a person’s maximum reach height is approximately 4 feet higher than the height of the ladder. For example, I can safely reach this top shelf which is 7 feet with a 3-foot step stool
Another common ladder used around the house is the conventional step ladder, also known as an A-Frame ladder Conventional stepladders range in size from 4 feet to 20 feet in length along the side rail. Need to change a ceiling light or paint a room in your house? Go with a stepladder.
Platform ladders are also handy if you need to use both your hands for the project or will be doing a lengthier task. The large platform reduces foot fatigue and provides freedom to rotate and allows you to tackle the job from the safest position.
To get those taller, hard to reach outdoor jobs like cleaning the gutters or taking down holiday decorations, try an extension ladder! These should be 7 to 10 feet longer than the highest support or contact point, like a wall or roof line. And don’t go any higher than four rungs from the top!
Finally, we have the articulated ladder. They can function as an extension ladder and help you paint a wall, but these ladders really shine because they are an all-in-one ladder.
For example, you can use it in the stepladder position to help you install a fan, trim a tree or clean a tall closet.
The 90-degree position is great for hanging pictures or wall mounted light fixtures since the ladder can be positioned closer to the wall. They can also be used for long continuous sections when used with trestle brackets and a plank.
2. The Ladder was not on firm, level ground.
So what you want to do is clear trash, construction materials and other obstructions away from the base and top of the ladder. The base of the ladder should be safely secured to prevent accidental movement inside or out
I suggest using a ladder with non-slip feet and you can also add outriggers or levelers to the bottom of an extension ladder to increase the footprint and stabilize the ladder on uneven ground.
3. Lack of 3 points of contact when climbing.
You want to make sure you always maintain three points of contact - two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand - when climbing up or down a ladder. That way, you’ll be more secure!
4. Overreaching while on the ladder.
When working from a ladder, keep your center of gravity and body between the side rails. If you can’t easily reach the project area once you have ascended the ladder, climb down the ladder and move the ladder closer to your project area.
5. Missing the last step of the ladder when climbing down.
Be more careful next time and exercise caution when climbing down a ladder. Always face the ladder when climbing up or down and don’t skip steps!
When you have the right ladder and use it correctly, accomplishing your tasks is much easier and safer! If you’d like more information, visit laddersafetymonth.com.