Use ladders safely
Everyone uses ladders to reach
out-of-the-way objects on pantry shelves or
closets, to wash windows or clean gutters on
the roof of a house. Ladders are so useful and
commonplace that they are often taken for granted.
That's a mistake, because
falling off a ladder also is commonplace. The
Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that
each year more than 511,000 people are treated
in hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices
and clinics and other medical settings because
they failed to use ladders safely. Most of the
injuries are cuts, bruises and fractured bones.
However, more than 300 people a year die from
injuries related to ladders-that's almost one
death per day.
Orthopaedic surgeons who treat
these injuries, and the American Ladder Institute
know that many of these injuries and deaths
could be avoided by following safety guidelines
on the use of ladders.
Use the correct
Use a ladder of proper length
to reach the working height you need. Inside
a house, that probably means a low stepladder;
outside, you may need a taller stepladder, and
for some projects, an even taller single or
extension ladder. Use a ladder according to
use and working load-the combined weight of
the climber and the load being carried.
TYPE DUTY RATING WORKING
IA Industrial extra heavy
300 lbs. maximum
I Industrial heavy 250 lbs. maximum
II Commercial medium 225 lbs. maximum
III Household light 200 lbs. maximum
Inspect the ladder
Always inspect the ladder
before you use it. Never use the ladder if it
is damaged, broken or bent.
Don't make a temporary repair
of broken or missing parts and then use the
ladder. The temporary repair could fail while
you're high off the ground. A ladder should
be free from grease, oil, mud, snow and other
slippery materials before using.
Moving the ladder
You should carry a single
or extension ladder parallel to the ground.
Hold the side rail in the middle of the ladder
so you can balance the load. You should get
help moving a very long ladder.
You should always carry a
stepladder in the closed position.
Setting up the ladder
Before you use a single, extension
or stepladder outside the house, make sure it
will not hit electrical wires, tree limbs or
any other obstructions when it is extended.
To ensure that the ladder
is stable, place the feet of the ladder on firm,
The bottom of the ladder should
be 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet
that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder
touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the
feet of the ladder should be 4 feet from the
wall. If you are going to climb onto a roof,
the ladder should extend 3 feet higher than
the roof. The upper and lower sections of an
extension ladder should overlap to provide stability.
Recommended height of a
16 ft. ladder 13 ft. maximum
24 ft. ladder 21 ft. maximum work height
28 ft. ladder 24 ft. maximum work height
32 ft. ladder 29 ft. maximum work height
36 ft. ladder
32 ft. maximum work height
Before using a stepladder,
make sure it is fully open, and the spreaders
or braces between the two sections are fully
extended and locked.
Whether inside or outside
the house, do not place stepladders or utility
ladders on boxes, countertops or unstable surfaces
to gain additional height.
The highest standing level
on a stepladder should be two steps down from
Using the ladder
Before climbing a ladder,
make sure the locks are secured and the bottom
and top of the ladder rails are on firm surfaces.
The soles of your shoeshould be clean so they
don't slip off the ladder rungs. Don't wear
leather-soled shoes-they can be slippery. Your
shoelaces should be securely tied. Make sure
your shoe-laces and pant legs are not so long
that they extend under your shoes and cause
you to slip.
Face the ladder while climbing
and stay in the center of the rails. Grip both
rails securely while climbing. Do not lean over
the side of the ladder. Your belt buckle should
not be further than the side rail.
On single or extension ladders,
never stand above the third rung from the top
and never climb above the point where the ladder
touches the wall or vertical support.
On stepladders, never stand
on the paint shelf, spreaders or back section.
Never stand on the top rung
of any ladder.
Don't overreach; it's safer
to move the ladder to a new location when needed.
Don't try to "jog" or "walk"
the ladder to a new location while standing
on it. Climb down and reposition the ladder.
Don't overload a ladder; it
is meant to be used by only one person at a
Never use a ladder in high
Do not use any ladder if you
tire easily, are subject to fainting spells
or are using medications or alcohol that make
you dizzy or drowsy.
What to do if you fall
from a ladder
Calmly assess the situation
and determine if you are hurt.
Get up slowly.
If you feel that an injury
has occurred which prevents standing or walking,
don't panic. Call for assistance. If the injury
is serious, call 911.
If you are not injured, rest
for awhile and regain your composure before
Ladders are useful tools,
but they must be used properly to avoid turning
a household chore into a trip to the emergency
room or a physician's office.