Ladders are basic tools that can lead some people to discount the dangerous nature of them. If proper safety precautions are not followed, ladder users easily could fall and suffer serious injuries or even death.
According to the Chicago-based American Ladder Institute, the safest way to climb a ladder is to maintain three points of contact. This means a climber should have either a hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot, in contact with the ladder at all times. This way, if one hand or foot slips, the climber will still be secure. The climber should not carry any objects in his or her hands that interfere with a firm grip of the ladder.
Additional tips to help minimize the risk of a fall include:
- Unless the ladder is specifically designed for such a purpose, do not allow more than one climber on a ladder at one time.
- Never jump or slide down a ladder more than one rung at a time.
- Regularly clean the soles of shoes to maximize traction.
- Use towlines, a tool belt or an assistant to supply materials and tools so the climber’s hands can remain free.
- Climb slowly and deliberately, avoiding sudden movements.
- Climbers should keep the center of the stomach between the ladder siderails when climbing.
- Do not overreach or lean to the side while working, as this could cause the ladder to tip.
- Do not use metal ladders near electrical lines or during an electrical storm.
- Do not use ladders outdoors in heavy winds or storms.