Climbing a ladder, regardless of the height, can be very risky when not properly executed. Ladders are useful tools that enable people to perform a lot of tasks and get things done, such as repairs, cleaning, painting, and building structures. However, they should be used properly, and with a great deal of caution in order to avoid accidents.
Basically, it is highly critical to follow the “3-point contact rule” when climbing a ladder. In order to use ladders safely, always observe three points of body contact at all times. This refers to both hands and a foot, or both feet and a hand on the ladder.
This rule does not only maintain proper contact, but also maintains the stability and safety of a person while climbing up or going down the ladder. Both hands should hold the rungs firmly before taking each step on the ladder. The 3-point contact rule should only be broken once on stable ground, or a safety platform.
Optimum Stability With a Ladder:
When using a tall ladder against a wall, maintain a 75 degree angle for optimum stability. The horizontal distance between the base of the ladder, and the support on the top end should be 1/4 of the entire length of the ladder. This means that the ladder should be leaning against the wall at an angle of 75 degrees when measured from the ground.
Another important guideline, when climbing a ladder that is placed against a wall, is the 4 to 1 rule. This means that for every 4 feet of height that has to be climbed, the base of the ladder must be moved 1 foot away from the wall. This rule is also closely aligned with the proper, and safe climbing angle of a ladder against a wall, which is 75 degrees.
Ladders should be placed on stable, solid, and even ground at all times. This is very important, in order to avoid any form of accidents. Ladders can be extremely dangerous to climb when the base is not properly, and firmly holding against even ground. The foot of the ladder should not move or slide while added weight is applied by the person climbing it.
When climbing up or going down the ladder, it is important for the person to maintain their center of gravity, and to stay balanced. For this reason, a person who is having trouble maintaining balance, has very weak core muscles, or has fear of heights, is not fit to use a ladder at any time.
Furthermore, a person who is unable to observe the 3-point contact rule on the ladder should never attempt to climb one (examples are amputees, those with injuries, or those suffering from musculo-skeletal disabilities).
Another safety precaution is to wear proper footwear. Shoes with heavy rubber soles are slip-resistant, so they are considered good choices. Also, do not make any attempts to adjust the ladder while climbing or stepping onto it.
Large items, such as boxes that need to be brought up using a ladder, should be handed over by another person on standby. Carrying a heavy load with both hands, while climbing a ladder, breaks the 3-point contact rule. That may be a recipe for disaster, particularly for those who have weak core muscles. In such instances, the help of another person is strongly recommended.