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Whether you are painting the house, cleaning leaves or pine needles out of the gutters, or performing a myriad of other chores around your home, at some point in time you will probably need to use either an extension ladder or step ladder.

When used properly, ladders can make the work a whole lot easier. But, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 65,000 people each year visit the emergency room as a result of ladder accidents. It is also estimated that about 300 people die each year from ladder related accidents. Please follow these safety tips so that you are not the victim of a ladder accident.

Inspect your ladder for safety defects before you use it. Why take unnecessary risks, don’t use any ladder that is unsafe.

  • If you have a wooden extension ladder:
    • Check the rungs and side rails for rot, cracks, slivers, loose side rails, and broken rungs. Make sure there are no loose nails, rivets, joints or bolts.
  • If you have a metal extension ladder:
    • Check the rungs and side rails for burrs, sharp edges, loose joints, rivets or bolts, cracks, bent, broken, or loose rungs.
    • Note: Never use a metal ladder when close to electric power.
  • If you have a fiber glass extension ladder:
    • Check the side rails for chips, cracks, excessive denting, or gouges. Check for bent, broken, or loose rungs.
  • For all extension ladders, check the raise/lower rope for excessive wear, cuts, or rot. Check the rope pulley for rust and freedom of movement (oil or lubricate if necessary). Ensure that the ladder locks or dogs are operating properly (oil or lubricate if necessary) and fully engage the rungs.
  • For stepladders, check for loose hardware, broken or loose spreaders, and loose or bent hinges. Check for cracked, broken, or worn steps.

Set up and use your ladder safely.

Extension ladders:

  • Use a ladder of sufficient duty rating to carry your weight.
  • Before climbing, check for insect or bird nests, etc. Swatting at bees or wasps for example, while climbing or working aloft could cause you to lose your balance.
  • Follow the 1 to 4 rule. An extension ladder should be set up so the base of the ladder is out approximately 1 foot for every 4 feet that the ladder is extended. For example, if your ladder is extended up 12 feet, the base of the ladder should be out 3 feet.
  • Make sure your ladder is level both at the top and the base to prevent slipping or falling. Use U-TECK “Ladder Wedge” to ensure that the base of your ladder is safely leveled before you climb. This rugged and easy to use tool is ideal for use outdoors on uneven dirt or grassy surfaces when equipped with metal cleats . It can also be used outdoors (as well as indoors) on uneven hard smooth surfaces such as concrete/asphalt driveways, walkways, patios, or slippery uneven warehouse floors, when equipped with rubber cleats .
    NOTE: Please click on the following link for more descriptive information, and pictures of the U-TECK Ladder Wedge. U-TECK Ladder_Wedge
  • Use a ladder of sufficient duty rating to carry your weight.
  • On hard, smooth level surfaces such as driveways, patios, etc., non-skid feet on the ladder itself can help prevent it from slipping. If your ladder does not have non- skid feet, tie off the base of the ladder to a solid object.
  • Leaning too far off a ladder can result in a fall. Always try to center yourself between the side rails while working on a ladder. A good rule to follow is never lean so far to either side that your breastbone goes beyond either side rail. Don’t overreach, move the ladder so you can safely do your work.
  • Always face the ladder when climbing or descending. For more stability, grasp the side rails rather than the rungs when going up or down the ladder. Never carry anything in either hand while climbing or descending. Use a hand line
  • If you are using an extension ladder to access a roof, make sure that you have at least 3 feet of side rail extending beyond where it is supported. This is important to ensure your safety by providing a good handhold while getting onto the roof from the ladder and vice versa. Also, make sure the ladder is securely positioned so that you can mount and dismount the ladder safely. Tie off the top of the ladder, or have someone hold it while you’re on it, if at all possible, especially on windy days.
  • Never climb too far up an extension ladder. Don’t stand any higher than the 4 th rung from the top.
  • Never set up your ladder in front of a doorway that could be opened while you are on the ladder.
  • Don’t leave a ladder set up and unattended, especially outside. It could fall and injure someone, or a young child could perhaps even climb it in your absence .


  • As with extension ladders, make sure your stepladder is set up on firm level ground. The U-TECK “Ladder Wedge” (as described previously under Extension Ladders) is also ideal for leveling stepladder feet.
  • To prevent slipping, do not use an unfolded stepladder in lieu of a straight ladder.
  • Make sure the stepladder is all the way open and both spreaders are locked in position.
  • Never stand on the top step. In fact, a good rule of thumb to help maintain your balance is never stand on the top or first step if the stepladder is 4 feet or shorter, and never stand on the top or the first 2 steps if the stepladder is over 4 feet.
  • Do not climb or stand on the rear section supports. They are not designed to support the weight of a person.
  • Use the right size stepladder. Don’t overreach on a ladder too short for the work you are doing.
  • Always face the stepladder while working from it.
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