How to Set Up a Ladder
Why Ladder Set Up is Important?
Each year thousands of people are injured in accidents or falls from ladders because of no knowledge or short knowledge about how to set up a ladder. The United States is leading in deaths caused by ladders and most of these are from falls of 10ft or less. At minimum 300 people every year fall to their death from ladders. More than 164,000 people are treated in emergencies rooms all over the US every year from injuries caused by ladders.
Without knowing how to set up a ladder properly, it is extremely easy to fall. No matter how low the height of the ladder is set up at, you can still sustain an injury or even lose your life from a fall. One very important way to prevent this from happening is to ensure that the ladder is set up in the safest and most proper way. This will decrease the hazard of falling from an unsteady ladder, because in order for a ladder to be used in a safe manner it needs to remain in the same position throughout the project.
Getting the Right Angle
One of the first steps to setting up a ladder the proper way is to get the right angle. The ladder should not be too far from the surface and it also should not be too close to it. Use your body as a deciding factor to determine if the angle is set correctly. Align your feet with the edge of the ladder, and reach out with both hands, if you cannot reach the ladder with your hands than the angle is too large. However, if your two hands can reach past the ladder than the angle is too small. When the ladder is set to the proper angle, your palms should be touching the rung of the ladder. The ladder should also be an approximate 75-degree angle from the wall or surface.
Ensure that the Feet Are Secured
The last thing that you want is for your ladder to slip backwards during a job, this will cause a decrease in the angle and also a falling hazard. In order to prevent this from happening, it is recommended that when you are setting up a ladder on grass or soft ground you turn up the ladder shoes this way the spurs will stick into the ground. Or lay the feet flat on the ground to prevent from slipping. For those projects being done on sloped or solid surfaces, scrub the entire depth of the ladder feet and make sure that the area is clear of dust, sand, or anything that could potentially cause slippage.
Secure the Top of the Ladder
It is not enough to just ensure that the feet of the ladder are secured, the top of the ladder must also be secured for extra protection. Make sure that the ladder top is resting on a surface that is even, and that you do not lean to the left or to the right when performing a job, this is another falling hazard. An even better way to make sure that the top of the ladder is secure, is to purchase some add-on accessories. Majority of hardware stores sell rubber or plastic mitts that go over the top of the ladders rails, these provide a much better grip than just the rails themselves and protect the ladder and the surface from damage.
Ladder stabilizers are also another good add-on accessory to ensure that the top of the ladder is secure. It is a bar, complete with rubber pads on the sides that can grip almost any surface to prevent the top from slipping or sliding. It also helps to spread out the load and prevent damage to surfaces that the ladder would be leaning up against by holding the ladder away from the building.
Create a Level Base
The feet of the ladder need to be level with each other to prevent any possible slippage caused by a slightly tipping ladder. Stacking boards, bricks, books, or other things under the foot of a ladder to level it out is an unsafe practice and it could cause slippage as well. Instead, focus on the side that is higher than the other side, and dig out a shallow trench with the claw of a hammer. If digging is not possible because the surface is hard, the best solution is to buy adjustable leg-leveling extensions. These can be found at most hardware stores and will come in handy for hard or sloped surfaces.
Observe what is Above You
Make sure that there are no electric wires above you prior to putting up the ladder, and ensure that you do not set up the ladder too close to the end of the surface because this will create a falling hazard. If you are setting a ladder up against a house, pay attention to the height of the roof and observe where the gutters are. Also, be careful when dealing with windows, especially if there are open windows. Don’t ever rest a ladder against a tree or a pole, because it can easily rotate and fall if set up against these surfaces.
Use of Jacks and Planks
Ladder jacks should not be used if they are higher than 20ft, above the height of 10ft a harness should be used instead. Jacks should be positioned on either the back or the front side of the ladder, and if the planks are in the front of the ladder, make sure to have another ladder available for easy access. Type I or AI ladders are the only ladders that jacks should be used on, and they should be hooked onto two rungs of the ladder. Only aluminum planks that are meant for ladder jacks or 2x12 wood planks that are no longer than eight feet in length should be used.
The fly section is the section that contains rungs, and this section should always be positioned in the front, overlapping the base section by at least three feet.
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