These 10 ladder-safety reminders from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Centers for Disease Control can help keep you safe as you tackle your spring gutter-cleaning and pruning chores:
- Check the ladder before you climb. Months of storage and jostling can take their toll on ladders:
- Inspect for damage or cracks in rungs and side rails.
- Look for missing or malfunctioning safety feet.
- For extension ladders, test the latches that secure the extension when it’s pulled out to full length.
- Buy a new ladder if anything looks worn or broken.
- Discard (never donate) a damaged ladder.
- Choose a ladder that’s tall enough for the job. Make sure the ladder extends at least three feet higher than the roof or other surface you’ll be stepping onto.
- Don’t exceed the ladder’s warning label weight capacity. Consider your weight plus the weight of any tools or materials you’re carrying.
- Follow the 4:1 rule. Set the ladder’s base out by one foot for every four feet of elevation. Always place the ladder on solid ground against a secure surface and never in front of a door that can be opened. Consider staking the ladder into the ground, if possible, or ask a helper to steady the base.
- Never prop a step ladder against a wall to substitute for a straight ladder. Use step ladders only after fully opening spreaders and locking them in place.
- Keep your belt buckle between the side rails. You won’t catch it on the rails. Plus, you’ll keep the ladder balanced, preventing a tip-over, because you won’t lean out too far. Always climb down and move the ladder rather than stretching to reach something.
- Maintain three-point contact. Keep either one foot and two hands or one hand and two feet in contact with the ladder at all times.
- Always face the ladder when you’re climbing or descending.
- Never stand on the top rungs or paint shelf of a ladder.
- Avoid electrical hazards. Check for overhead power lines before carrying or setting up a ladder.
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