Ladder Safety Tips for DIY Home Improvement Projects

by Rachel Laurendeau on July 25, 2012

No matter what type of do-it-yourself home improvement project you are undertaking, making sure that you do it safely is paramount. In cases where you are working from heights, you’ll want to be particularly cautious, as this presents a number of challenges and hazards. Working from heights can include, among many things, cleaning out gutters, pruning tall trees, painting and repairing or replacing your roofing. To avoid serious falls and injuries, take the proper safety precautions, follow manufacturers’ instructions and keep the following tips in mind.

Every ladder should have a safety sticker that includes its load limit (weight of both you and your materials) and maximum safe height. For your own safety, respect these limits. As well, never leave ladders unattended, you never know who might be walking by and decide that it would be fun to climb up onto the roof or into a tree.

Stepladder
• Choose a stepladder that is approximately 3 feet shorter than the highest point you have to reach.
• Open the stepladder spreaders and shelf fully.
• Lock the spreaders in place.
• Make sure that the ladder is stable. All ladder feet should be on a firm, non-slippery and level surface.
• Don’t place a stepladder so that it is leaning against a wall. If you need to lean the ladder, use a straight ladder instead.
• Place the stepladder at a right angle to your work, either with the front or back of the steps facing the work.
• Face the ladder when climbing up or down and use both hands.
• Don’t overreach. Instead, keep the ladder close to the work you are doing and move it as often as necessary.
• The top of the ladder and the pail shelf are not meant to be stood on or sat on.
• If your knees are higher than the top step of the stepladder or if you cannot hold the ladder, you have climbed too high.

Extension Ladder
• Place the ladder on a firm and level surface making sure the footing is secure. Don’t use on snow, ice, slippery or soft surfaces.
• Follow manufacturers’ instructions for safe set-up of your extension ladder making sure to maintain the minimum overlap of sections; do not overextend the ladder.
• Do not set up or take down a ladder that has already been extended.
• Place the ladder so that it is leaning at a 75-degree angle from the ground.
• Make sure that locking ladder hooks are secure before climbing.
• You should never climb higher than the fourth rung from the top of the ladder.

When it comes to your well-being, you cannot be overly cautious. If there are any DIY projects that you feel uncomfortable tackling yourself, contact an experienced home improvement professional or roofing contractor to take care of these tasks for you. They are trained to work at heights and can get the job done safely and efficiently.

Resource: CCOHS

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