How to Tie Off a Ladder for Safety


Experts from the offices of Occupational Health and Safety say ladder accidents occur because of complacency. They add that accidents diminish if the person using the ladder thinks about what he or she is doing, considers what could take place in every situation, and takes precautions before beginning the project. People often forget that ladders can contribute to on-the-job accidents.

Whether you are a contractor or a homeowner, when you are using a ladder there are certain rules to follow about how to tie off a ladder for safety. Because workers and do-it-yourselfers want to get the job done as quickly as possible, they often take shortcuts. But it is never worth breaking the rules just to finish a job more promptly.

Learn about Your Ladder

Here are the basic questions you should ask yourself before including a ladder in your project:

  • How do you keep three points of contact while you are on the ladder?
  • How do you tie off a ladder for safety?
  • How do you know are purchasing a safe ladder?

Roughly 800,000 people a year are involved in an accident linked directly to the misuse of ladders. An estimated 100 people will suffer long-term injuries every day. 

How to Tie Off a Ladder for Safety

The instructions for tying off a ladder are as follows:

  1. Carry the ladder to the location where you are using it and lay it on the ground.
  2. Make sure the feet of your ladder are on a stable, flat surface.
  3. Ensure that your safety feet are in good shape and are properly in place.
  4. Look around the base of your ladder to ensure there is no trash, cords, hoses, or tools that might result in a trip or fall as you descend.
  5. Make sure to tie the top of your ladder by using rope or wire secured to the structure against which your ladder is leaning.
  6. If there is nothing to which you can attach, you will need a ladder stabilizer (a device that widens the area where your ladder contacts the structure).
  7. Use a ladder extension (a device that simplifies mounting and dismounting) to ensure that the descent of the ladder is safe.

Using the Right Ladder for the Job

Many of the annual accidents caused by ladders are due to lifting a heavy ladder. The shape and size of a ladder make it awkward to move them from place to place. The weight of the ladders you use should be a factor in which ladder you purchase. You should check 10 awesome ladders

It is easy to get involved in a project and reach for the closest ladder. Many times, the ladder reached for is too small or short, and workers end up standing on the top step. This position is an accident waiting to happen.

If you do not "think through" your project and consider the safest ladder to use in this instance, you may find yourself in a situation where you are "over-reaching" or have set up your ladder incorrectly. Everyone has done this to save time or to avoid having to walk a distance to retrieve the correct size and type of ladder. This kind of shortcut is just not worth it.

Purchasing Safe Ladders

Fortunately, there are stabilizers, tie-offs, and extensions that will add the assurance you need for safe ladder usage.

The Guardian Fall Protection 11200 IS-766-Foot Internal Shock Lanyard is a heavy-duty polyester, webbed, single leg lanyard that does not stretch and is light-weight. It includes easy-to-use snap hooks and bought by many along with the Guardian Harness and Cross-Arm Straps. To tie off a ladder for safety and to ensure protection for workers, Guardian is the way to go.

Another excellent safety device manufactured by Guardian is the Fall Protection 10800 Safe-T Ladder Extension System. This device attaches to the top of a ladder and provides a simple transition from structure to the ladder. It installs effortlessly to the ladder with no need for extra tools and allows a walk-through from raised surface to the ladder along with handrails for stability.

For homeowners, Ladder-Max has created a Stand-Off Stabilizer that "This Old House" has spotlighted. It easily and quickly installs onto your ladder and holds your ladder away from the gutters on your house. The stabilizer protects your gutters and keeps you safe by balancing your ladder on the roof. Every handyman or woman needs a Stand-Off Stabilizer.

If you are looking for enhanced security when you are working on a ladder, you might consider the Lock-Jaw-Ladder-Grip, which fits all standard ladders. The grip is an adjustable locking jaw that secures the ladder to a wide-range of gutter types. The gadget also adapts to a variety of single and extension ladders. It is 10" x 5.5" x 5.5" and weighs 2 pounds.

Qualcraft makes a Ladder Rung Step that is designed to reduce worker fatigue. It expands the foot support by extending the size of the ladder rung. The step is easy to install with no tools needed and is compatible with almost every standard ladder. It is constructed of reinforced aluminum and is perfect for those jobs when you are standing on one step for an extended period, such as house painting. The overall width of the step is 18". One reviewer explained that he had a foot injury and was only able to work on a ladder with the aid of this product.

Advance Inventions, LLC has come up with what they call the Levelizer which levels any ladder in seconds. The device is lightweight and allows the leveling of ladders when placed on terrain that is bumpy or tilted. The Leveller fits both extension ladders and step ladders. When your ladder leans or teeters, grab the Levelizer to ensure your ladder stays put.

As much fun as it is to work on projects at home, no one is happy if an accident occurs. Be sure you follow the directions written for you in the manuals that come with your tools (including ladders), and you can be sure that your safety and the safety of others is not in jeopardy. Read your manuals!

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert is a specialist in avionics technology. He has been involved in avionics technology since 1993. He spent more than 15 years writing about high tech gadgets. Numerous publications have interviewed him. He is very passionate about sharing his knowledge.