If you work on ladders frequently, you may already think that you know how to set them up properly. Perhaps you do, but a little refresher never hurts. Ladder falls are one of the main reasons for serious work site accidents, and they often happen because people rush through the setup and create an unsafe workplace.
Remember, that person may not be you. Often, one worker sets up the ladder and others use it. Knowing what to look for can help keep you safe, even if you didn’t set it up yourself.
First and foremost, you always want a level surface. You also want that surface to be firm — concrete, hard-packed dirt, etc — so that the ladder does not sink or shift and become unsafe even though you initially set it up properly.
If the ladder isn’t tall enough for the job, get a new ladder. Do not put it on top of something else. Do not stand on the top rungs. Do not reach so far that you unbalance yourself. Get the right ladder for the job, and you’ll be far safer.
Make sure that you use the proper angle. A ladder with a base that is too close to the building can tip over backward. If it’s too far away, the feet can slide out and send whoever is on the top sliding down the sheer face of the wall.
Finally, look for additional hazards. Do not set a ladder up in the path of vehicles, along a footpath, in front of a door or near a swinging window.
Doing all of this can keep you safe, but ladder falls still happen. Make sure you know what rights you have when you get injured on the job.