How to use Ladders Safely at Work and Home

The extension ladder is tied on at the top and being footed by a second man at the base.

If you use ladders in the workplace and at home, being safety conscious is important in order to lower the risk of a fall and a potentially serious injury.

How safety conscious are you when it comes to ladders? It can be easy not to give safety a second thought when you’re up a ladder doing some DIY painting at home, or reaching for stock on a high shelf at work. But if not used correctly, ladders pose a risk of falls and serious injuries.

Here’s a quick guide to the safe use of ladders in the workplace and at home.

How to safely use a ladder

When using any ladder, regardless of size or location, remember:

• Choose the right ladder for the job, and check it meets Australian Standards. If possible, opt for a platform ladder.
• Read the manufacturer’s instructions and inspect for damage before use.
• Set up on a flat, stable surface. Have someone hold the ladder at the base and/or use ladder safety devices like anti-slip guards and stabilisers.
• Remember the three-point contact rule. Only one arm or foot should be off the ladder at any given time.
• Never lean too far in one direction. Get down and move the ladder first if you need to reach a different area.
• Keep your hands free while climbing up or down the ladder (both hands holding the ladder).
• Check the ladder’s weight load and adhere to it (person plus object carried)
• Extend A-frame ladders fully and never straddle the top.
• Never move above the second-top rung of a ladder.
• Always face inwards. Never move up or down with your back to the ladder.

Is safety really that much of an issue?

It certainly is. A 2016 study of ladder fall trends in Australia found that around 5,000 people a year are hospitalised after ladder accidents. Interestingly, more ladder falls happen at home than in the workplace. During the recent storm on December the 2nd, there was a mad panic to clean gutters immediately and a few home owners were hospitalized. The increasing number of injuries caused by ladder accidents has even prompted the Australian Government to launch a Ladder Safety Matters campaign.

When to call the professionals

There are times when you need help with ladder work, especially on multi-storey homes and buildings. So when it’s time for your annual roof gutter maintenance in Melbourne give us a call. Our experienced tradespeople can do the job efficiently, with strict attention to safety guidelines.

This article is not intended to be substitute for professional training in ladder safety.

A large industrial strength ladder being used to access a 3 storey roof.