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If you intend doing your own home maintenance and repairs it follows that it will only be a matter of time before you will need to use a set of ladders. In this section we will be looking at ladder safety and how to prevent potential accidents from happening.


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Ladder Safety

If you intend doing your own home maintenance and repairs it follows that it will only be a matter of time before you will need to use a set of ladders. In this section we will be looking at ladder safety and how to prevent potential accidents from happening. Like most things to do with safety, safety with ladders are tried and tested common sense procedures which you must adhere to for you own sake as well as those around you.

It is required that:

  • The ladder angle is at 75° – you should use the 1 in 4 rule (that is, 1 unit out for every 4 units up) – see Figure 1.
  • Always grip the ladder and face the ladder rungs while climbing or descending – Do not slide down the stiles.
  • Do not try to move or extend ladders while standing on the rungs.
  • Do not work off the top three rungs, and try to make sure the ladder extends at least 1 m (three rungs) above where you are working.
  • Avoid holding items when climbing, consider using a tool belt.
  • Maintain three points of contact when climbing (this means a hand and two feet) and wherever possible at the work position – see Figures 2 and 3.
  • For a leaning ladder, you should secure it by tying the ladder to prevent it from slipping either outwards or sideways and have a strong upper resting point, i.e. do not rest a ladder against weak upper surfaces (e.g. glazing or plastic gutters – see Figure 4)

There are on the market devices for securing ladders, but you should tie ladder top and bottom as shown in figure 5, but you may think that this is not always possible and it might be better to have someone to stand at the bottom to ‘foot’ the ladder for you. However, if you are serious about DIY this is something that you should take into account. For example, if you intend cleaning and maintaining your gutters on a regular basis (twice annually) it means having safe ladder access all around your property to gutter level and being able to carry out this work comfortably without stretching whist working off the ladder. All this would mean is fitting to the brickwork at low and high level a means of attaching a cord (fig 6) at regular intervals at say 1600mm or whatever you would feel comfortable with so that on every occasion that you come to put the ladders up against your wall you can be confident of two things; firstly, you will be working in complete safety without having to rely on anybody to help you, and secondly, everything is already and place for you to complete the task in hand.

 





The above images and information are based on and provided by The Health and safety Executive Safe use of ladders and stepladders. And published in accordance with the Open Government Licence
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