Basic Ladder Safety for Workers and Do-It-Yourselfers

Yes, this may sound silly, but OSHA recently published an article with surprising statistics. While many know how to properly use a ladder, few will actually apply basic ladder safety. Workers and weekend DIY tacklers have a job or goal in mind, when safety should be at the top of the list, or rung in this instance. It only takes a person one second to fall sixteen feet or more, and in that split second much can change. Remembering basic ladder safety can save you from expensive hospital bills, worker’s comp claims, and most importantly your life.

Inspired by Electrical Contractor Magazine, local electrical professionals at Current Electric want to make sure you know the basic ladder safety tips. In their article Electrical Contractor Magazine talks about ladders improperly locked causing death from a twenty foot fall, losing balance and dying from improperly using a basic 7 foot step ladder and even a gentleman who was electrocuted when his aluminum ladder contacted a power line. You’d think you were watching that cheesy 1000 Ways to Die show on Spike, but this is reality. There are no corny punch lines at the end putting humor to their death. All could have been avoided with the right knowledge of basic ladder safety and common sense.

Before beginning any job requiring a ladder make sure you take the proper time to inspect the piece of equipment as you would with a power tool or other piece of machinery. Look for wobbling rung, slick surfaces and split side rails. When setting up the ladder, make sure the shoes of the ladder are properly level so you don’t lose balance as you climb up.  Again these are common sense basic ladder safety tips, but it could make or break you and your wallet.

Here are some other great basic ladder safety tips Electrical Magazine had offered:

  • When setting up the ladder, keep in mind the four to one rule. For every four feet of height the base should be placed a foot away from the object the ladder is resting on.
  • Another great basic ladder safety tip for setting up is to make sure the side rails are extended three feet above the landing when using the ladder to climb onto the roof. You can even tie the ladder and side rails to the house for additional stability.
  • Lastly secure the door shut if placing a ladder in front so it cannot be opened.

Other basic ladder safety tips

  • Always face the ladder
  • One person to the ladder…duh
  • Always have a three-point contact at all times (two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet)
  • When using an extension ladder never work off of the top three rungs

Though a ladder can be an electrician’s, DIY’s, or other service worker’s best friend, it could also be your greatest enemy. Don’t ever assume you have the upper hand with this piece of equipment, if you don’t take the time to properly check the ladder you can pay the consequences. Knowing basic ladder safety can be the difference between finishing a job or winding up in the hospital, or worse.