The team at Bailey Ladders has provided the article below, outlining the safety considerations when it comes to purchasing and using ladders. 

When working at height in any industry, it is important to use the correct tools for the job to avoid accident and injury. At Bailey, we are dedicated to ‘safety at heights’ and our ladders are both lightweight and strong to ensure any job around the home or workplace can be done with stability and ease.

Bailey recommends that technicians adhere to these simple ladder safety guidelines below to ensure their peace of mind when working at height.

Choose the right ladder

Make sure the ladder you plan to use is the best for the job, by noting the ladder reach and load limit as well as any other features that may help.

If you are working at medium height and stairways or obstacles pose a problem, a work platform that can be adjusted both horizontally and vertically is ideal.

Stepladders offer the benefits of a mobile job station. They can be fitted with accessory buckets from the handrail, which means fewer trips up the ladder. Safety features to look for are anti-slip platform deck, heavy-duty carry handle and a fully integrated brace and castor systems to make the ladder stable.

A multi-purpose ladder (such as the Bailey Dual Purpose Ladder, above) should be in every ladder kit. They should be strong and lightweight and offer the flexibility to transform from a stepladder to a straight ladder.

Also, remember to consider the ladder’s materials. Aluminium ladders are strong, lightweight and corrosion resistant
but will conduct electricity. Fibreglass ladders are strong, electrically non- conductive but are generally heavier than aluminium ladders.

Never chock a ladder using bricks or timber, it might be the last thing you do.

Check your ladder before use

Cast an eye over the ladder to ensure it is still in good working order and double check for any defects like rust, dents or bends in the ladder frame. Also, ensure the feet of the ladder look stable and do not show excessive wear. Never use a ladder that looks damaged.

When setting up choose your position carefully

When setting up a ladder, ensure it is stable and that all ladder feet are in contact with a solid and level surface. Make sure you are not set up in a doorway or thoroughfare or near any loose cords or cables that could tangle the ladder or become tripping hazards.

Remember the one in four rule when using an extension ladder – the ladder should always be one metre from the vertical face of the wall for every four metre of height. When accessing a roof, an extension ladder should extend at least one metre past the gutter, this increases safety and helps prevent the ladder from slipping.

Climb up and down properly

Once your ladder is set up and ready to go make sure you climb up and down properly. Always ensure locking devices are firmly engaged before stepping onto the ladder, and be sure to face the ladder and have three limbs in contact with it at all times when climbing up or down. A good rule of thumb is the ‘belt buckle’ rule. Always keep your belt buckle within the confines of the ladder and never over reach beyond this.

Work at height safely

When you are up the ladder, be sure to work up there safely. Some key tips include:

  • Ensure your body is centred on the ladder (ie. belt buckle rule)
  • Never stand on the top cap of a stepladder or the tread directly below the top cap
  • Do not climb from one stepladder to another and never use a plank between two ladders
  • Do not reach up and down the ladder to collect tools. Climb down safely and then back up
  • Always wear fully enclosed non-slip footwear
  • Do not use an aluminium ladder around electrical hazards, use non-conductive ladders if exposed to these hazards.
Bailey Xtenda Plank, ideal for working at medium height or where stairways or obstacles pose a problem

For added safety while working at height, the Bailey Safety Gate can also be attached to Bailey aluminium and fibreglass industrial platform stepladders. It surrounds the user within an enclosed and safe work zone. The Safety Gate can be easily assembled and dismantled and gives technicians extra safety and confidence while working.

There are also some handy tips that should be considered when purchasing a ladder. For example, determine the appropriate size ladder needed for the job. An interchangeable ladder might be most appropriate to easily adjust for various heights, conditions and transportation. Also, take note of the ladder’s load capacity and duty rating – in this case it is important to consider your own weight and the weight of the materials you will be carrying. A domestic ladder is unsuitable for use on industrial worksites.

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