Each year there are dozens of serious incidents where workers have fallen from ladders. While workers in construction, retail and building maintenance are most commonly injured, any worker using a ladder – at any height – is at risk.
So what can you do to avoid becoming a statistic?
The first thing to consider is whether you really need to use a ladder for the job. Ladders should only be used for simple access jobs or for a short duration. If you can work from ground level or using an alternative like scaffolding; do it.
But if a ladder is your only option, here are the 10 golden rules that can help you avoid injury.
- Choose the right ladder for the job. It should meet Australian standards and the load requirements of the job.
- Inspect the ladder for damage before each use.
- Only use a ladder if you are physically-capable of doing so.
- Always set up the ladder on a flat, stable surface. Consider safety devices like leg levellers, anti-slip gutter guards and stabilisers.
- Always maintain three point of contact with the ladder. This means two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder. Never lean or reach away from the ladder while using it.
- Only take small items up or down a ladder and items that allow you to maintain three points of contact.
- Never exceed the working load limit on the ladder. Remember to include the weight of your tools.
- If you’re using an extension ladder, secure it at the top, bottom or both. If this isn’t possible then have someone hold the ladder. If you’re using an A-frame ladder, make sure it’s fully open and locked.
- Extension ladders should be angled at a ratio of 1:4. That is, position the base of the ladder 1 metre away from the structure for every 4 metres of height.
- Do not climb past the second-top rung of a ladder, and never straddle the top of an A-frame ladder. When climbing down, face the ladder and climb to the bottom rung before stepping off.
We’ve developed a short video to illustrate these steps – watch below and check out our YouTube channel for more how-to videos.