Hands On
Safety's Always First

MAR/APR 2002
Volume 45/Issue 2

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The Garden Bench
Wren and Blue Jay Bird Houses
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Owner’s Gallery
Letters from Owners
Academy Notes
Finishing Touches - Pt.4 Applying a Synthetic Finish
Service Pointers
Disc Sander
Safety Tips
Ladder Safety

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Ladder Safety
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Where would today's do-it-yourselfers be without our trusty ladders? If we humans were only eight to ten-feet tall, we could get along nicely without them for most jobs (although we'd have a heckuva time finding chairs and beds to fit our bodies). But we're not, so ladders are often a necessity. They're indispensable when scraping, painting, cleaning gutters, installing ceiling fans or lighting fixtures, working on the roof and a host of similar “around-the-home” tasks.

  • Most of us remember what we first learned about ladder safety:
  • Always open a folding ladder completely before climbing onto it.
  • Be sure all locks on extension ladders are fully engaged.
  • Always face the ladder when climbing up or down.
  • Don't use electric tools on wet or metal ladders.
  • Keep ladder rungs and steps free of dirt, grease and oil.
  • Always try to have a “helper” available to hold the ladder when you're climbing.

Here are some additional safety tips we may not be so familiar with:

  • Always extend an extension ladder another three feet beyond the work edge and secure it with a rope, if possible, to keep it from slipping.
  • Always keep your body centered when working on a ladder to avoid tipping it from side-to-side.
  • Use a ladder hook when working on a steep roof. This hook attaches to the ladder's rungs and hooks over the roof's peak.
  • Keep one hand on the ladder at all times whenever possible to help maintain your balance while working.
  • Place an extension ladder one-fourth as many feet out as it is extended up. For example, if your ladder is extended up 20 feet, be sure the bottom is out a minimum of 5 feet from the structure.
  • Be sure the “feet” of a ladder are on firm, level ground prior to climbing. NEVER set the feet in mud, sand or soft ground. When using an extension ladder, be sure BOTH ladder feet are firmly planted.
  • Use a rope or line to haul materials or tools up to your workplace rather than attempting to carry these items up the ladder with you while climbing.
  • When using an extension ladder, face the upper sections of the ladder outside and overlap the mating sections by a minimum of 3 feet for maximum rigidity.
  • Never stand above the fourth rung from the top of an extension ladder or the second step from the top of a stepladder.
  • Using a closed stepladder as an extension ladder can cause it to slip out from under you.
  • Always be sure you're mentally and physically up to climbing a ladder before doing so. If you're afraid of heights, taking drugs or drinking alcoholic beverages, don't climb ladders.
  • Never climb on the back side of a stepladder.
  • Be careful not to lean to one side of a ladder while working or over-reach, as this could cause you to lose your balance and fall.
  • NEVER try to re-position a ladder while you're on it by “hopping” or other techniques, as this could tip the ladder and cause personal injury. ALWAYS get off the ladder before moving it.

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