When working on a ladder, your safety and the safety of those around you should be your top priority. Unfortunately many people are in the habit of using ladders in unsafe ways. We’ve listed some of the common but dangerous ways to use a ladder and how you can avoid them in future.

Unsafe: Only two points of contact with the ladder

It’s inevitable that some of the tasks that you need to perform on a ladder will require two hands. However, safety guidelines around using ladders state that you must keep three points of contact with the ladder at all times. This means that when some people need to use both hands they will put themselves in an unsafe position, as their feet will be the only points of contact. That doesn’t mean that you can never use two hands, however, you just need to find ways to brace yourself with a third point of contact – usually your knee or chest.

Unsafe: Using the wrong ladder for the job

One thing that is automatically unsafe is using the wrong type of ladder for your needs. Whether the ladder is too short for the job or simply cannot be setup in a way that is safe, it will be dangerous to use it. You should always make sure that the ladder will allow you to get the work done without having to stretch or work at an awkward angle. And you should never work on the top three rungs of the ladder – your belt buckle should always be below the top rung.

Unsafe: Carrying tools in your hand

Some people will attempt to carry the tools up the ladder in their hand or leave them sitting precariously on one of the rungs near the top. Not only does carrying tools make it more difficult for you to hold on to the ladder, it’s also the case that resting tools on a rung could allow them to slip off and endanger someone below. Instead you should carry your tools in a tool belt so that you can keep a strong hold on the ladder at all times, and know that they are secure.

Unsafe: Setting up on uneven or unstable ground

A ladder is only ever as secure as the ground it is placed on. So if you need to work in a position that is either unstable or uneven, you need to first take steps to ensure that the ladder can be placed safely. There are many different ways to do this – you might be able to find an alternative location to place the ladder that would allow you to get to the area requiring the work. It may also be possible to lay down a platform for the ladder to stand on.

Unsafe: Not inspecting the ladder first

It is essential that before using any ladder you should thoroughly inspect it first. You need to go over each part of the ladder from the feet and locking mechanism to the rungs and the sides to ensure that are in good condition and not worn or damaged.