Ladder Safety Tips: Using A Ladder Safely For Home Maintenance & Repair
It’s time to get the tools out to tighten, repair, and clean various things around the house and yard. Warmer weather has arrived in some parts of the country, while others are still digging out from late snowstorms. Either way, many people are starting to prep their homes for spring and summer.
Wherever you live, it is vital to put safety first before beginning. There were more than 775,000 injuries in 2019 related to home improvement projects. Yes, it can happen to you.
The ladder, one of the most common tools used both inside and outside the house, sent nearly 247,000 people to the ER with ladder-related injuries, more than any other piece of equipment. That’s huge. So, whether you are cleaning out gutters or repairing and repainting boards on the side of your home, let’s examine the best and safest ways to use a ladder this spring.
Ladder Condition and Care is Critical
As you pull your ladder out of storage, spend time examining it. Determine if it is damaged in any way. Are the steps tight and level so that the ladder will hold you steady as you climb? Check the cleats and feet, as well as side rails. Look for cracks and splinters, deformed rails or rungs, and bends and breaks.
Metal ladders should be free of corrosion and the feet need to be slip-resistant. Many metal ladders are aluminum and they won’t rust. So hopefully, you have stored them inside if not being used for a length of time. Some other metals used for ladders will rust if left outside so move them inside to a protected space whenever not in use.
Wood ladders can last a long time if protected from rot. They also need to be wiped down frequently to rid them of slippery materials that can endanger the user. Paint your ladder with a wood preservative or clear sealer to protect it from deterioration. Paint alone won’t add protection. Also, make sure to store your wooden ladder flat instead of hanging and don’t store anything on top of it. Look for a cool, dry location for storing wooden ladders or they will deteriorate.
Using the Right Ladder is Just as Important
You want to get outside and tackle all those spring projects quickly, but don’t take shortcuts. It’s important that you safely finish whatever you start by choosing the right ladder for each task. And that starts when you are picking out one or more ladders to buy. Look for ladders that feel sturdy and don’t rock or sway. The rungs of a metal ladder should never bend under your weight. This isn’t the time to purchase the most inexpensive product. Your safety is too important to go cheap.
Here are some other tips in picking out a ladder:
- Consider the location of the work area. Sometimes you will need a long extension ladder for things like gutter cleaning or painting while step ladders are more often needed in the house.
- Think about what’s around you on the ladder. If you will be working anywhere near electricity, you will need fiberglass or wood.
- Take careful note of how high you need to climb. Buy a ladder that meets your needs rather than think you can “make do.” If using an extension ladder, add another 7-10 feet beyond your highest support point.
- A safe reach height, which is no more than 4 feet from the top of the ladder, is critical.
- Don’t expect a ladder to support more weight than it is made for. The general range of support for ladders is between 200 lbs. and 375 lbs. And it’s not just about your weight; consider the weight of the materials you need to carry up the ladder to tackle the project. To put this in perspective, a medium-duty/painter’s/handyman’s ladder supports about 225 lbs.
You’ve picked out some new ladders and you’ve inspected the ones you have for safety. What are the best ways to finish the jobs around your house or yard safely, without trips to the ER?
Ladder Safety Depends On You
What would we do without ladders? They make work possible for your DIY projects, which can also help you save money too. They are tools that give you the satisfaction of taking care of your home, too.
However, ladders can be deadly if used improperly. A momentary slip in concentration can lead to injury or death. Here are some things to consider before getting up on that ladder:
- Honestly assess if you have the expertise for the job you are about to undertake. If uncertain, don’t take a chance; call an expert.
- Use the “Three-Points-of-Contact” rule to prevent slipping and falling. Always face the ladder and keep both hands and one foot in contact with the ladder at all times.
- Wear sturdy footwear. Take the time to go dig out your athletic shoes or work boots. No flip-flops, sandals, or slick leather bottoms.
- Make sure to climb only when you are feeling 100%. Too many things can happen on a ladder that requires total concentration.
- Get that ladder out only when the weather is good and the surfaces are dry.
- STOP if there are any power lines near the ladder or your work area. Call an expert for that job.
- Use the 4 to 1 rule in placing the ladder: 1 foot away from the building for every 4 feet of height to where the ladder rests against the structure.
- Don’t work in front of doors that can be opened while you are on the ladder.
- Clear the surface around the base of the ladder of tools and other clutter.
- Extension ladders have locks on them. Make sure they are all engaged before climbing.
- Clean all dirt, grease, debris off the ladder and steps.
- Don’t lean from side to side once on the ladder. Get down and move it.
- Stay off the top two steps of a stepladder and the top three of an extension ladder.
- Use a toolbelt for supplies. Don’t try to carry anything while climbing.
- Avoid quick, sharp movements. Falls happen in an instant.
If you are not sure about your ability to do the job, turn the job over to a professional.
When in Doubt, Find an Alternative
In some instances, the job is best left up to the professionals. There are also things you can do to help reduce the need for using ladders for your home maintenance. For example, cleaning gutters is dirty and often dangerous work. By having high-quality gutter guards professionally installed, you can eliminate the need for gutter cleaning.
Contact us here at Valor Gutter Guards to get more information today.