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Climbing ladders

Ladders are a commonly used piece of equipment, both in the workplace and at home. It is important to know how to use ladders safely to prevent injuries or fatalities.

What are the major causes of ladder accidents?
What should I look for before using a ladder?
How should I set up a ladder?
How should I climb a ladder?
How should I store a ladder?
How should I use a stepladder?
How should I use an extension ladder?

What are the major causes of ladder accidents?
losing footing on rungs or steps
failing to grip the ladder properly while climbing
unsafe position while on a ladder
placement of ladders on slippery surfaces, causing them to slide
using defective ladders

What should I look for before using a ladder?
Are there any defects in side rails, rungs or other similar parts?
Are there any missing/loose/broken steps or rungs (they are loose if you can move them by hand)?
Are there any cracked, split or worn rails or braces?
Are there any missing/damaged feet?
Are there any loose nails, screws, bolts or nuts?
Are there any loose or faulty spreaders, locks, and other metal parts in poor repair?

Defective ladders should not be used. In the workplace, they should be taken out of service. Do not make temporary repairs to a ladder.

How should I set up a ladder?
Clear trash, construction material and other obstructions away from the base and top of the ladder.
The base of the ladder should be safely secured to prevent accidental movement. Use a ladder with non-slip feet. Set up the ladder on a firm, level, non-slippery surface.
The top of the ladder should be tied off or secured to prevent movement. If this is not possible, someone should hold the base of the ladder when it is being used. The person at the base of the ladder should face the ladder, with a hand on each side rail and one foot resting on the bottom rung.
When erecting a straight or extension ladder, it should be placed one foot away from the wall for every four feet in extended height, to the point where the ladder touches the wall.
When setting up portable ladders, check the area for live electrical power sources. Ladders made of aluminum should not be used near live electrical power sources.
Unless barricades have been set up, ladders should not be used in passageways, doorways, driveways or other locations where they can be struck or displaced by traffic.
Never set up ladders on boxes, carts, tables, or other unstable surfaces.
When setting up or carrying long, heavy ladders, two or more people should share the task to avoid injury from overexertion.

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How should I climb a ladder?
Clean muddy or wet soles of shoes/boots before mounting the ladder.
Always face the ladder when climbing up or down, or when working on the ladder. Always maintain a three point contact when ascending or descending a ladder.

Do not carry materials in your hands when climbing a ladder. Raise materials in a hoist or attach them to your belt.
When working from a ladder, keep your centre of gravity between the side rails. Reaching out to either side of the ladder changes your centre of gravity, which can cause the ladder to become unstable.

How should I store a ladder?
Store ladders where they are protected from the weather.
Never rest a ladder on any of its rungs. Ladders must rest on their side rails.

How should I use a stepladder?
Use a stepladder that is about one metre (three feet) shorter than the highest point you have to reach. This gives a wider, more stable base and places the shelf of the ladder at a convenient working height.
Open the stepladder spreaders and shelf fully and lock them in place before using.
Place the stepladder close to your work area.
Avoid pushing or pulling the stepladder from the side. Repeated sideways movement can make ladders wobbly, since they are weaker or less stable in those directions.
Face the stepladder when climbing up or down. Keep your body centered between the side rails. You have climbed too high if your knees are above the top of the stepladder or if you cannot maintain a handhold on the ladder.
Do not "shift" or "walk" a stepladder when standing on it.
Do not stand, climb, or sit on the stepladder top or pail shelf.

Do not overload the ladder. Stepladders are meant for one person.
Do not climb a stepladder that is leaning against a wall. Use a straight ladder instead.

How should I use an extension ladder?
Set up an extension ladder so that the upper section rests on the bottom section.
Raise and lower the ladder from the ground. Ensure that the locking ladder hooks are secure before climbing.
Maintain minimum overlap of sections, as shown on ladder label.

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Learn more about avoiding slips and falls.

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