Ladder Safety

Here are a few ladder do's and don'ts:

  • DO position extension ladders correctly. For stability, a ladder has to be planted with its feet one-quarter of its extended length away from the house. This is not as tricky to calculate as it sounds: If it's a 12-foot ladder, that means it has to be positioned 3 feet from the house. For a 16-foot ladder, make it 4 feet. There is also a sticker on the side of ladders that illustrates the angle that the ladder should be placed. It looks like a capital 'L,' with the bottom of the 'L' parallel to the ground.
  • DON'T carry an extension ladder upright as you move it. This is a maneuver best saved for the clowns at the circus. You could easily lose control of it in this position, smashing windows and gutters along the way, and knocking into power lines. Instead, lower it and carry it parallel to the ground.
  • DO make sure the ladder is positioned on a level surface. DON'T try to use rocks or bricks to prop up one side of it, figure these will fail just as soon as you reach the top.
  • DON'T ever work on ladders alone. A helper can keep you from making stupid mistakes, such as having the ladder fall down while you're stuck up alone on the roof (I speak from experience).

If there's one guiding principle with respect to ladders, it's this: If you feel squeamish, don't go up. Period. Perhaps this tip should have been closer to the top, as it's perhaps one of the most important safety pieces I can think of. Confidence working on a ladder comes from knowledge of the proper safety procedures and experience exercising that knowledge properly. Well, that and not falling off of one.

Credit: Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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