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How to Use Step Ladders Correctly

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Since stepladders are such a common piece of equipment, it is always taken for granted that everyone knows how to use them properly. That is a risky assumption.

There are so many important things to remember when working on step ladders if you are using them at home or at work. This article will take you through some step ladder safety tips to help keep you safe the next time you are either changing a lightbulb or working on site.

Pre-checks – inspecting your step ladder

Most people do not check their ladders thoroughly and even if they did, many wouldn’t know what to look for. Many individuals take chances when working with stepladders that could cause harm and serious injuries.

Before even stepping onto a step ladder, you should carry our pre-checks. These checks are a quick visual inspection of the stiles, rungs, locking mechanisms and feet to check for damages or dents to any components or parts. You should do this before every use, if working on stepladders at work you should also carry our more in-depth and regular inspection by a competent person.

How high can you stand on a step ladder?

We’ve all used a step ladder in the past, but did you know how high you can stand on a step ladder to stay safe? Where you can safely stand on a step ladder depends on which ladder type you have, a swingback or a platform step ladder.

If you have a platform step ladder, then of course you can stand on the platform, this is the purpose of this ladder type. However, if your step ladder doesn’t have a platform you should not be exceeding the top 3 rungs. The top 3 ladder rungs for you to be able to lean against while working and is not for standing on, take this into consideration when choosing the correct ladder height.

Shoes & clothing

It is just as important that you make sure you have the right shoes and clothing on when you are going to climb a ladder.

This is because if your footwear doesn’t feel stable, then you won’t feel stable when climbing the ladder either. You should wear clean and anti-slip closed toe shoes when working at height as this will provide the best grip on the ladder. You should also attempt to wear fitted clothing to avoid any flowing materials that may get trapped when climbing and descending.

Climbing & Ascending

When ascending and descending, always face the ladder or step ladder, never descend with your back towards the ladder. Always take one rung at a time while retaining the ladder’s firm grasp and footing.

Ensure that you retain three points of touch while ascending or descending. In other words, the ladder must be in touch with at least one of the hands at all times. If you hold something that prevents you from keeping three touchpoints, even with only one hand, or that can cause you to lose your balance and fall.

And finally WATCH OUT FOR THE BOTTOM STEP! It’s a little-known fact that most falls from height are from the very bottom rung of the ladder, so take extra care when on that bottom rung.

Avoiding overreaching

Never overreach on a ladder while operating. A great tip to ensure that you don’t overreach on a ladder is to ensure that your belt buckle is never outside the stiles. If you discover that you have to overreach to complete a job, there are two solutions:

  • Move the ladder closer to the job
  • Your ladder is too short, and you need a greater height to complete the job in hand

Summary

Ladders are commonplace, but so are ladder injuries, sadly. When using step ladders, take every precaution to guarantee that you do not end up among the statistics of ladder casualties. Set it up, use it, and properly maintain it, whether you’re at work or home. Don’t let a simple assignment become a disaster.

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