Safety Tips

Extension ladder safety

Reprints

Ladders may look similar but they are not all the same. Take the extension ladder, for example. Extension ladders generally have two sections that operate in brackets to allow for adjusting the ladder’s length. OSHA notes that these types of ladders need a stable structure to hold loads, as they are not self-supporting.

OSHA recommends a variety of tips for safely using extension ladders, including:

  • Ensure the extension ladder can support at least 4 times its maximum intended load. (OSHA notes that extra-heavy-duty type 1A metal or plastic ladders should sustain at least 3.3 times their maximum intended load.)
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have a competent person inspect all extension ladders before use. If a ladder is determined to be damaged, immediately mark it with a “defective” sign. Never attempt to use a damaged ladder.
  • Place the ladder at the correct angle. When leaned against a wall, the ladder’s bottom should be one-quarter of its working length away from the wall.
  • Keep the spaces around the top and bottom of the ladder uncluttered.
  • Use a ladder with non-conductive side rails if the ladder could come into contact with energized electrical equipment. Keep all ladders a minimum of 10 feet away from power lines.
  • Never use an extension ladder horizontally.

With any kind of ladder, follow some important basic safety steps:

  • Maintain three points of contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) when on a ladder.
  • Do not carry tools when climbing or descending a ladder – use a tool belt instead.
  • Ensure the ladder is not placed on a slippery surface.