Learning proper ladder safety will reduce your risk of injury when you are tackling those hard to reach home maintenance projects. Each year there are more than 164,000 emergency room injuries in the U.S. relating to ladders, so it’s important to understand ladder guidelines and always use caution while climbing.
Assess yourself. Before you even get your ladder out, do a quick self-assessment. If you feel tired, dizzy or had a little too much tequila last night, considering postponing your ladder project. Check your clothing and shoes. A clean, slip-resistant pair of shoes is a necessity for proper ladder safety. Note: Leather soles are particularly slippery and should be avoided for ladder duty. Also double check to make sure you aren’t wearing any loose clothing or large belt buckles that could get tangled while you are on the ladder.
Check the condition of your ladder. Are there any loose or missing parts? Check the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs. It’s also a good idea to clean off any mud or debris that may be on the ladder rungs.
Set up safely. When setting up your ladder for use, place it on firm, solid and level ground or flooring. Always engage any ladder locks before you begin. Once it’s set up, check to see if the ladder sways or leans to one side. If it does, don’t use it!
Follow the three-point-of-contact rule. Now, one of the most important safety steps – the climb! The three point-of-contact rule means you should always have at least three body parts in contact with the ladder (either two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand). This way if one of your limbs slips, you’ll still have two backup points of contact.
Allow only one person on the ladder. As a general rule, only one person should be on the ladder at any given time.
Don't overreach. Once you’ve completed the climb and started working, don’t overreach! Always place the ladder as close to your work area as possible and try to keep your hips vertical with the ladder rails. If you need to climb down and move your ladder, that’s much safer than overreaching and losing your balance.
Review safety information labels. Because different sizes and types of ladders are needed for different tasks, it’s always a good idea to review the safety information labels on your ladder before tackling any home maintenance projects to make sure you’re using the right tool for the job.