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May 8, 2017 by Chandra Tan

5 Safety Checks Before You Climb That Ladder

From painting walls, replacing light bulbs, and fixing roof, many common work-at-height activities will cause injury and even fatality to others if you do not pay enough attention to what you are doing. When climbing up a surface, most people would think to use a stepladder or regular ladder. They are a staple, both in the workplace and at home. That's why it is important that you know how to use ladders safely and pay attention to your surroundings.

1. Know how long you will be working at height.

If your work at height task would require staying up a leaning ladder or stepladder for more than 30 minutes at a time, consider an alternative equipment like scaffolding or even mobile-elevated work platforms.

2. Defective ladders must not be used.

Check for any defects on side rails, rungs, steps, and other parts. They may be loose, cracked, missing bolts, or have a faulty mechanism. If you found a defective ladder in the workplace, take them out of service; do not attempt to make temporary repairs.

3. Check for environmental hazards.

Unless barricades have been set up, ladders should not be used in passageways, doorways or other locations where they can be struck or displaced by traffic. You should also check for live electrical power sources before setting up an aluminum ladder. This is covered in more depth in a construction safety orientation course (CSOC).

4. Set-up the ladder correctly.

Set up the ladder on a firm, level, non-slippery surface. Set the ladder at a proper angle, with the top of the ladder resting on a flat surface. Secure the base and top of the ladder with add-on accessories like non-slip feet and rubber pad grips.

5. Climb up and down the ladder safely.

Avoid holding onto things as you climb. Grab onto the rungs of the ladder using a hand over hand method, never letting go of one rung before grabbing the next. Have someone hold the ladder down and pass you the tools. Finally, wear proper shoes instead of sandals.
A  good Building Construction Supervisor Safety (BCSS) course would remind you to put the ladder away (or at least lay it down) when you're done working at height, or if you take an extended break. You shouldn't leave stepladders unattended, especially around children. If you work in building construction or any other fields that require frequent work at height activities, you can look for safety consultancy or safety training to make sure your working environment is safe for you and your workers.

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