Using Ladders Safely

The first golden rule with ladders is not to climb if you do not like heights; you will only feel thoroughly unsafe, and so will risk a fall. The second is to check any ladder before you climb it, to make sure it is in good condition. All the rungs should be

securely locked into the stiles (the long side pieces), and, if wooden, should show no signs of splitting. The stiles themselves, if wooden, should be free from splits, and should be dead straight — a warped ladder will be severely strained when you climb it. Aluminium ladders are, of course, far more durable than wooden ones and unless seriously misused will last a lifetime.

Always carry a ladder in the upright position to where it is needed. Then set the foot against the angle between wall and ground, with the ladder horizontal, and lift the top end, working it up towards the vertical by walking your hands down the rungs. With the ladder upright, lift the foot out from the wall to a distance equal to one-quarter the height of the ladder top. If it is set on hard, level ground, tie it to stakes set in the ground at either side, or weight the foot of the ladder with a sack full of earth. At the top, tie the ladder to a conveniently sited window frame, or to a stout hook driven into a fascia board or window sill. Never trust gutter fixings or downpipes to be secure enough for this. On soft ground, set the foot of the ladder on a plank to which a wooden batten has been screwed, to prevent the ladder from sinking in. On slight slopes, use the same board with a wedge under one end; never put wedges under just one stile.

When you climb a ladder, do not be alarmed when it flexes under your weight. Hold both stiles as you climb, and look straight ahead as you do so. Carry tools in pockets or in an apron, or haul them up in a bucket once you have climbed the ladder, securing the bucket with a ladder hook over one of the upper rungs.

Once you are up the ladder and ready to start work, do not lean out too far to each side. Keep your body within the line of the stiles, and always hold on with one hand.

If you are using an extension ladder, always maintain a three-rung overlap when the ladder is extended. On any ladder, do not climb higher than about four rungs from the top. Do not rest ladders on guttering; if you need the ladder that high, fit a ladder stay at the top to hold the ladder clear of the wall. If you need access to the awkward-toreach area immediately above a window, lash a length of wood across the ladder wide enough to bridge the window and rest on the masonry at either side.

If you are using your ladder to gain access to the roof, make sure it protrudes at least m (3ft 3M) above the eaves, and that it is securely tied. Then get a helper to pass up the roof ladder, hooked end first, and push it up the roof slope on its small wheels until the hook reaches the ridge. Then turn the roof ladder over, with the hook over the ridge, and check that it is securely held. Tie the lower end to the top of your extension ladder before climbing on to it.

Using slot-together platforms

These tower platforms are very easy to build; parts of H-shaped frames are simply slotted together to build the tower up to the desired height, and then planks and handrails are added at the top to form the working platform. They must be erected on firm ground, unless stout planks are placed under the feet; slight slopes can be accommodated by means of adjustable feet fitted below the bottom frames. On level, paved areas castors can be fitted to allow the tower to be moved along; these must be locked when the tower is in position.

If the tower is more than about 2.5m (8ft) high, it should be secured to the house near its top, by tying it to a window frame or stout fascia hook. Toe boards — platform planks placed vertically round the edges of the working platform — should be used to stop tools and equipment falling off.

When climbing a tower of this sort, always climb up the inside, never the outside, or you may tip the tower over.

Similar Posts