Falls from portable ladders are one of the leading causes of occupational injuries and fatalities (https://www.osha.gov/Publications/portable_ladder_qc.html). While they are closer to the ground than their extension cousins, step ladders or portable ladders can be every bit as dangerous.
Fortunately, common sense goes a long way in ladder safety. When using a step or portable ladder, follow these simple safety rules:
- Read the labels. Before using your step ladder, read the safety labels and markings on the ladder – including the weight limit. When looking at the weight limit (or load rating), make sure to factor in the equipment you’re adding.
- Maintain three points of contact. Just like using a taller ladder, you always need to keep at least three points of contact with the ladder. This simply means that if you are using one hand to do a task, the other hand and your two feet need to be firmly planted to the ladder.
- Move the ladder. This is especially important when painting or putting up decorations; it is tempting to just reach as far as you can to either side, but this can make the ladder unstable. Instead, move the ladder so you are always working right in front of your body.
- Climb the right way. Face the ladder when climbing up and down, keeping your body centered between the rails. Step ladder don’t always have side rails to grab onto, so be aware of each step.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Never use a ladder in the rain or other bad weather. Pay attention to normal wear and tear, especially the non-slip steps. Only use the ladder on sturdy and stable surfaces. Make sure you are not in a position where someone could accidentally knock the ladder (like in a doorway).
We hope these simple tips will keep you safe this gutter-cleaning, holiday-decorating season.