Using extension ladders can be extremely dangerous, according to work at height specialist, Browns Ladders. Here is some timeless advice on how to ensure stability to use them safely.
Online PR News – 25-April-2013 – Brierfield, Lancashire – The key factor in preventing falls from extension ladders is ensuring their stability, so says the safety experts at Browns Ladders. Almost all falls from ladders occur because of unexpected ladder movement.
The company says that, where site conditions permit, tying the ladder to a suitable point is essential in order to prevent movement. This scenario, however, is often not possible.
Although tying is the safest way, window cleaning often involves climbing unsecured ladders. Another, slightly less secure way of securing extension ladders is tying it partway down using some form of anchorage and quick-release straps.
Stabilisers or footing ladders might help in some circumstances. But, unfortunately, footing offers little advantages in terms of preventing sideways slips at the top of ladders – particularly for very tall ones.
Always ensure the extension ladder stability device you use will, in fact, increase stability significantly. Extension ladders longer than 6m need to be secured. But even with ladders below this length certain considerations must be made. Factors include:
Height – a simple principle: the greater the height, the greater the risk.
Lone work – self-employed cleaners can’t use footed ladders and many terrains don’t permit lone work.
Inherent stability of the ladder – the more securely the feet and top are positioned.
Weather conditions – rain, snow, wind or any weather which may affect your work. All these factors are extremely important for window cleaners when considering how to use their ladders.
It is important to know where you are going to set up and where you use ladders.
As a rough guide, you should only use a ladder:
- Either on firm and level ground – For step ladders, the maximum ground slope should be a side slope of 16 degrees, although the rungs must be levelled, or, a back slope 6 degrees.
- On solid and clean surfaces – This needs to be free of loose material so the feet can grip. Shiny floor surfaces can be slippery even without contamination.
- After it has been secured.
There are various ways of securing ladders – these are as follows:
- Extension ladders must be tied to suitable places. Make sure both stiles are tied.
- Where this is impractical use a ladder stability device – with a safe, stable unsecured ladder.
- If this is also not possible – use a wedge to get the ladder in place – for example, against a wall.
- As a last resort, if none of these can be achieved foot the extension ladder.