How to Use a Ladder Safely

If you own your own home, there are literally countless reasons that you may need to set up and climb a ladder. And while this is a piece of equipment that is used by a wide variety of people in a number of industries every day, there are some serious potential dangers if you don’t use a ladder the right way.

Cleaning gutters, changing outside lights, getting a ball off of the roof or trimming a tree could all require you to climb those rungs. The potential danger lies in the set up of your ladder as you begin to work. Failure to follow proper safety procedures when using a ladder around the house or on the job could cause the bottom to slide out from under you or cause the ladder to tip back. Either one of these mishaps could result in property damage, serious injury, or even death – no matter what height you happen to be working at.

Minimizing the chance for injury when working on a ladder comes to the angles. And while most of us don’t walk around with a protractor in our pockets as we are getting ready to do home repair or to retrieve a lost toy, there is a way to figure out if your ladder is at the right angle to work safely.

Start by making sure that the “feet” of the ladder are on flat and level ground. Stand up straight and put the toes of your shoes against the bottom of the ladder. Extend your arms straight out in front of you – if you can grab onto the rung at shoulder height, your ladder is at a safe working angle – if you have to over reach to tough it or if you can grasp it with arms bent, adjust the base accordingly.

Even when it is at the right angle, working on a ladder can still be dangerous. If there is a friend, coworker or spouse around with a free hand, you can make your work on the ladder even safer by having that person stand at the bottom to provide extra stability while you are working.

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Jeff Wilson

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