National Ladder Safety Month was designed to raise awareness of ladder safety, which is why I’ve teamed up with the American Ladder Institute to ensure just that! Now that Spring is on the way, you probably have a lot to do around the house. Whether that list includes cleaning your gutters, painting the house, or dusting off those high-ceiling fans, ladders can get you to those hard-to-reach places. But one wrong step can mean an unwanted visit to the hospital.
Here are four easy ladder safety reminders and tips to know while tackling your Spring to-do list!
Before you start your task, read the warnings and instructions provided on the ladder labels. Now that you’ve done that let’s go through the highlights. The first step is choosing the correct ladder. Too often, users grab the wrong ladder for the task at hand, so it's important to know which one is right for the job. Don’t pick a ladder that's too short or too tall for the job. For example, step stools and A-Frame step ladders are perfect for many indoor tasks. Changing lightbulbs, grabbing glassware, or hanging wall decor are good examples. Extension ladders are great for hard-to-reach areas, like cleaning your gutters, rooftop access, and house painting for additional height where you need it most. And don’t forget to choose the right material – a non-conductive fiberglass ladder should be selected when working on or around electrical circuits or wiring.
Now that you've got the right ladder for the job, it's time for Step 2! Thoroughly inspect your ladder to ensure it's in good working condition before starting your task. Pay attention to the side rails, steps, rungs, locks, fasteners, and make sure the ladder's climbable surfaces and feet are clean and on a firm, stable and level foundation.
This leads us to Step 3 - climb safely! Always remember the “Three Points of Contact Rule.” Whether climbing up or down always face the ladder. During climbing, keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder at all times. Keep both hands free for climbing. Once you are in position, have materials handed up to you or use a rope to elevate supplies safely. Never turn around on a ladder or straddle over the top. This minimizes the risk of losing your balance and falling. If you catch yourself leaning or overreaching, step off the ladder completely and reposition as needed.
Our fourth and final tip is Safety at the Top. This applies to all ladders. If you're on an extension ladder, the top three rungs are not meant to be stepped on, so be mindful of this safety consideration. The same rules apply to your step ladders' top step and top cap. For better stability, keep both feet firmly planted, and support your legs against the ladder for additional support.