American Ladder Safety Month
As we move into spring, there's a lot to tackle in and around the house. Whether it's cleaning out your gutters or dusting hard-to-reach areas, ladders come in handy to get the job done. That is... if you're using them correctly! To ensure you're doing just that, I've teamed up with the American Ladder Institute for National Ladder Safety Month with four easy steps to follow.
First, when it comes to using ladders, one of the mistakes users make is choosing the wrong ladder for the job. From step ladders to single ladders and extension ladders, it's important to know how to use each one. To avoid injury, never use a ladder that's too long or too short. Never exceed a ladders Duty Rating, which is the total weight your ladder can handle. To calculate this, simply add up your body weight, the weight of your clothing, plus any tools and equipment you might have on you to ensure your ladder can handle the job.
For example, self-supporting stepstools around the home are great for tasks, like reaching for a glass in the kitchen. A-Frame stepladders offer additional elevation when you need more reach, like dusting off ceiling fans or changing a lightbulb. Plus, some newer innovative models can double as a single-leaning ladder when you need to get closer to a wall for hanging wall decor.
Now that you've chosen what you need, it's time for Step 2! Thoroughly inspect your ladder to make sure it’s in good working condition before starting your task. Pay attention to the steps, rungs, locks, fasteners, and make sure the ladder's feet and climbable surfaces are clean and on a stable, even surface. Cleaning off the soles of your shoes also promotes better traction when climbing.
Speaking of climbing, let's talk about how to climb safely. Once your ladder is clean, sturdy, and stable, use caution on the way up. Remember the Three Points of Contact Rule, which minimizes the chance of losing your balance and falling from the ladder. Always face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder at all times as you climb. Take your time and avoid leaning or overreaching. If you need to move the ladder, step off completely and reposition as needed. So while you're outside cleaning the gutters, never climb on the top three rungs of your extension ladder, as these are meant to provide user’s handhold support.
This leads us to step 4: Safety at the top. If you ever find yourself standing on the top cap or step of your ladder, you're not using the right ladder for the job. Straddling or standing at the top of your ladder is unsafe and can throw off your balance leading to injury. Just as you do while climbing, never overreach and always maintain Three Points of Contact. To do this, keep your feet firmly planted on the ladder, with a hand or your knees resting on the ladder for stability.