We would like to inform you of the best practices when using some of the most commonly used types of ladders (we have some experience in this area :). This is quite important, as if used incorrectly, ladders can be very dangerous. This is highlighted by the fact that one third of all reported "fall from a height" incidences involve ladders. If you fall from a ladder at any height, the chances of getting injured in some way are very high, serious injuries are common and even death is an actual possibility.
In this piece we will be focusing mainly on step and extension (straight) ladders but if the only need you have for a ladder is to get into your attic / loft, the safest thing you can do is to get professionals like us to install a folding attic ladder unit, which we be solid and safe without having to worry about many of the following safety precautions (although, some of them still apply!).
- CHOOSE THE CORRECT (APPROPRIATE) LADDER FOR THE JOB. This is very important as using the incorrect ladder for a certain job will greatly increase the risk of falling and/or injury. For instance, if you are changing a light bulb, you should use a step ladder or if you want to clear a blockage in your gutter you should use an extension or straight ladder. (And if you want to get into your attic / loft, get Original Attic Stairs to install an appropriate product for you :). This is mainly common sense, but if you are unsure you should always ask someone with experience or at least Google it!
- INSURE THE LADDER IS THE CORRECT HEIGHT FOR THE JOB. Once you have chosen the correct type of ladder for the task you wish to carry out, it is also very important that it is the correct height. Under no circumstances must you overstretch to the point of being off balance while you are on a ladder of any kind. You should not stand on the top two steps of a ladder (with the exception of an attic stairs), this means your ladder must be high enough for you to comfortably reach your work area without standing on eider of the top two steps.
- SET UP THE LADDER CORRECTLY AND APPROPRIATELY. Any ladder needs to be set up facing your work, you should never turn around and lean on a ladder with you back. All ladders (Particularly step ladders) need to be set up on a firm and level base for complete stability. If you are using an extension (straight) ladder you must set it up at the correct angle, the distance from the ground to the ladders point of contact with the wall must be 4 times the distance of the wall to the base of the ladder (4:1 ratio). You should also secure an extension ladder at the top (by tying it to an anchor point) and at the bottom (by securing it with weight etc.)
- INSPECT BEFORE USE. Before using any ladder you must inspect it. You need to look of for excessive ware and damage, such as rust, lose screws and/or rivets and cracks or brakes.
- WEAR WHAT'S RIGHT FOR THE JOB. You need appropriate footwear (no sandals or slippers!). Don't wear excessively baggy clothes which could get caught or snagged on a nail or screw. If you are carrying tools you should wear a tool belt so you can have safe access to your hammer etc.
- MAINTAIN 3 POINTS OF CONTACT. When climbing any ladder you should always maintain 3 points of contact, which means basically that at any given moment you should always have your two feet and one hand on the ladder or two hands and one foot.
We do hope this was helpful. Thanks for your time and climb safe!
The Original Attic Stairs Team.