Climb with care and step up to safe ladder practices

March 13, 2019 | SECURA Insurance

If you own a home, chances are you own a ladder. Since they're such common tools, it's easy to forget just how dangerous they can be. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 97 percent of ladder falls occur at home or on farms. Falls from a household ladder can easily cause sprains, broken bones, or worse. 

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Always remember to think before you climb. Be sure you: 

Choose the right ladder for the job at hand.

The right ladder will have a duty rating or maximum load that exceeds the total weight of the climber and any tools that will be carried. Make sure it's tall enough too. An extension ladder or straight ladder or straight ladder should extend at least three feet above the upper point of support. 

As tempting as it may be, never sit or stand on the uppermost rungs, or you could lose your balance. Safety guidelines say users must stay below the third rung from the top of an extension ladder and the second step of a step ladder. 

Set it up on solid ground. 

Whether it's a step ladder, folding ladder, or straight ladder, they should always be placed on a firm, solid surface. Take care to avoid slippery, wet, or soft surfaces as this can increase your chances for slips and falls. 

If you're using a straight ladder, it should be positioned at an approximate 75-degree angle. To see if you have the proper positioning, stand up straight with your toes touching the feet of the ladder as it leans away from you. Extend your arms in front of you. If it is set correctly, your palms should touch the top of the rung at your shoulder level. 

Maintain three points of contact. 

When climbing, maintain three points of contact at all times (two hands/one foot, or two feet/one hand). This means you shouldn't carry anything that prevents you from grasping the ladder securely. Carry tools on your belt or bring them up with a tow rope. 

While using a ladder, keep your body centered between the rails. Don't lean and reach. Never try to move a ladder while standing on it. Climb down and reposition the ladder closer to where you are working. 

Other ladder safety tips: 
  • Never place a ladder in front of a door, unless that door is blocked open, locked, and/or guarded. 
  • Before use, inspect the ladder and do not use if it has loose or missing parts. 
  • We shouldn't have to tell you, but avoid using ladders in adverse weather situations or near power lines. 

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