Step ladders are an important part of a professional or DIYer’s equipment. It allows us to reach high areas to carry out work, get on to rooftops and can be used in the garden for cutting branches and pruning. Most people agree that this clever invention is a must have, however far too many people don’t take safety serious when working with step ladders. An alarming figure of 160,000 incidents per year are reported in which injuries occurred from the use of step ladders. Unfortunately a lot these incidents result in serious injury.
Using common sense is a good start to being safe on step ladders, but sometimes a bit more knowledge is needed to make sure that you have created a safe working environment when using step ladders. The following tips will help you understand what to look for when you use step ladders.
- Place ladder on an uneven, un-stable, slopey, wet or slippery surface. This is a disaster waiting to happen. The base of the ladder is the most important factor and holds the key to your safety.
- Overreach – A good tip is to keep your belt buckle inside the rails of the ladder. It is basic science, if you reach too far to one side or the other, you place your weight outside the centre of gravity, causing the ladder to become top heavy and topple over.
- Place under electrical cables – Aluminium ladders conduct electricity and should never be placed under power cables or be extended near power cables.
- Move ladder whilst standing on it – Always take the time to get down from the ladder, move it and then get back on them.
- Stand on the top step- Standing on the top step makes the ladder unstable and can make it slip from under you.
- Use step ladders when not fit – Being injured and not being able to use both hands can cause more injuries.
- Use step ladders when under the influence- Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs your judgement and will lead to serious injury or death.
- Leave ladder unattended – When you finish your job or leave the site, take the ladders down. This prevents children from using it and getting injured.
- Secure the braces – The braces are there for a reason!
- Get on the first step to make sure the ladder is stable. Give it a gentle wobble to make sure it is 100% stable.
- Fully open the ladder – Do not prop it against a wall and climb it. A step ladder is not designed to work this way.
- Retain good hold of the ladder with at least one hand
- Wear good shoes that aren’t slippery. Never wear slops or flip-flops.
- Make sure the ladder can take your weight. The maximum weight rating is printed on the side of the ladder.
- Work while someone else is around. If something happens, having someone around to help you is very handy and can save you from serious injury.
By following these tips you can create a safe working environment while working with step ladders. And always remember: “SAFETY FIRST”
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