All you will need to know about ladder safety.


Climbing a ladder is potentially dangerous, but most of us don’t even consider ladder safety and see it as low risk. According to the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, 2013 has seen one fatality and 326 non-fatal injuries from falling of a ladder in Singapore. Preventing a fall from a ladder remains a top priority for the WSH Council, as ladders are used not only in workplaces but also in the home. So if ladder safety is a concern for you, follow the advice below and it might just keep you from becoming a ladder statistic. 

Types of Ladders 

 There are three basic portable ladder types:

  • Industrial: Heavy-duty with a load capacity not more than 250 pounds.
  • Commercial: Medium-duty with a load capacity not more than 225 pounds.
  • Household: Light-duty with a load capacity of 200 pounds.

Note that all weight capacities represent the total weight on the ladder, including the person, tools and materials. 

There are also several sizes of ladders. The three most popular sizes used by homeowners are 4, 6, and 8 feet. Regardless of the ladder size, you need to follow the safety rules below:

Stepladder Safety

1. Before you start using a ladder, Make sure you check that the two metal hinged braces (spreaders) are locked in place and straight. 

2. You need to make sure that the stepladder on uneven ground. Each of the ladder's four feet must make firm contact with the ground or floor. 

3. You should never sit or stand on the very top step of the ladder. Both ladder manufacturers and emergency room doctors recommend you never standing above the third highest step. 

4. You should only climb up the front of the ladder. 

5. Don't allow another person on a stepladder if you are on it already. 

6. When you are up a ladder keep your hips within the two vertical rails. Reaching too far to the left or right could cause the ladder to topple. 

7. Before you move a ladder always make sure you have removed all tools and materials from it. You really don’t want that hammer or screwdriver falling on your head.

8. Don’t lean a closed ladder up against a wall and then climb up it. It can easily slide out from under you. 

9. Always maintain three points of contact when working on ladders. Two feet and one hand on the ladder at all times. 

10. Finally, don't leave stepladders unattended, especially around children. When you're done working for the day, or if you take an extended break, close the ladder and put it away or at least lay it down. 

Extension Ladder safety

An extension ladder is the easiest and most convenient way to reach those high areas around your home, but with greater heights come greater injuries. So be careful. 

1. The first think you need to do when extending a ladder is to lay it on the ground with its feet braced against the house. Then raise the top end of the ladder and walk it upright hand over 

hand. Once the ladder is nearly vertical, grab a rung at about thigh-high, lift the ladder slightly, and walk its base back away from the house. 

2. Once you have got the ladder in the desired position, grab the rope and raise the telescopic section of the ladder, known as the fly, to the desired height. Be sure that both rung hooks lock securely onto a rung of the ladder, then tie off the end of the rope to a lower rung. 

3. To set the proper ladder angle, use a ratio OF 1:4. Divide the ladder height by 4, and then move the ladder base that far from the house. If the ladder is 16 feet tall, its base should be 4 feet away from the house. 

4. You need to make sure that both ladder feet sit firmly on the ground. If one foot doesn't make contact, don't stack blocks of wood beneath it. Instead, dig some dirt out from beneath the other foot.

5. Never stand an extension ladder on wet, muddy or icy surfaces. 

6. You should never stand higher than the fourth rung from the top. 

7. When you ascend or descend a ladder make sure you use both hands to grab the rungs, not the rails. 

8. When you are up a ladder you should wear a tool belt or holster to carry tools and supplies. By doing this you'll have both hands free when climbing up and down.

9. As with a stepladder, keep your hips within the vertical side rails. Don't overreach to the left or right. 

10. If you are going to use a ladder to climbing onto a roof be sure the top of the ladder extends at least 3 feet above the point of contact. When you reach the edge of the roof, grab the top of the rails with both hands, and then carefully step around the ladder. 

11. If you can tie off the top of the ladder.  This will keep the ladder from sliding off the edge of the wall or roof. 

So my final word of advice is to equip your ladder with a stabiliser. This is a removable device that greatly increases the span of the ladder at the top. A stabiliser or stand-off is a U-shaped device that is bolted near the top of the ladder. These stabilisers are normally about four feet wide and have padded feet to rest against a roof or siding without damaging them. The stabiliser will not only make it easier and safer to clean your gutters, but can make access easier for painting, cleaning and various other repairs. A disadvantage is that a stabiliser makes a ladder slightly top-heavy and awkward to move, but this is a small price to pay to ensure you are safer when using a ladder. Ladder safety must always be the first thing you think of when you take that ladder out the storage cupboard or garage.


If you are unsure about climbing up a ladder to paint, do repairs, clean your windows or gutters can help you find a contractor.

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