ladder safety

How to Choose a Ladder

How to Choose a Ladder

Ladder SafetyMost fatal falls in the workplace are from ladders.  Choosing the correct ladder for your work tasks is an important part of your ladder safety program that should include training, proper maintenance and storage, inspections, and safe work procedures.

First, assess the height of your work task.  Stepstools and short ladders elevate you slightly.  Stepladders and extension ladders can get you to further heights.  What type of work will you be doing?  Is the ladder used to enter and exit a work area, or will you be working from it?  Platform ladders and work platforms provide stable, elevated working surfaces.  Is there an unusual space or access issue? Specialty tripod or trestle ladders access awkward spots.

Determine the rated capacity you need.  Office and household ladders are not suitable for construction and heavy-duty work.  Choose a ladder that can hold the weight of the worker and the load of materials or tools that they will carry up and down.  Type 1A ladders are rated for 300 pounds while 1AA ladders hold 375 pounds.  Exceeding the weight capacity of a ladder can cause it to buckle, twist, and collapse.

Your ladder material is important. Fiberglass ladders are sturdy, non-corrosive, and non-conductive if clean and dry, so use them for working around electricity.  Aluminum ladders are lightweight and durable, but should NOT be used around electricity.

What accessories do you need?  Stabilizing bars can hold extension ladders in place when you access rooftops.  Trays hold tools and materials.  Specialty footings or levelers provide stability on unusual or uneven surfaces.  Consult your ladder manufacturer about compatible accessories and how to use them properly.

You may need several ladder types and sizes for your job tasks.  Know how to store, transport, and access your ladders safely and conveniently.  Ladder handles or wheel devices help you conveniently manage and move your ladders.

Step up to safety on the proper ladder for the job!