Don’t Fall! Painting (Safely) with Ladders

Usually when we talk painting safety here at the good old Prestige Painting blog, we talk vapors and other chemicals that can sometimes work their way into the body and do damage, but today we’re gonna focus on an issue that’s much more physically immediate, and one of the most commonly overlooked painting safety concepts: using a ladder correctly.


It might seem simple: go up and down and don’t fall, but the reality is that the apparent simplicity of using a ladder to paint ends in a large number of injuries each year, some of which can be pretty darn severe.

Since we much prefer our friends and fans to have as few broken bones and scraped-up body parts as possible, here are some of the most important (and often little-known) tips and guidelines for using a ladder to paint. We gotta keep those bodies safe and sound!


Checking the Equipment

 1.            Only use ladders that are in excellent condition. This means no overly rusty parts, no missing screws or other pieces and certainly no wobbling. You might think it’s okay to use a slightly wobbly ladder, but it’s hard to tell exactly how close that wobble is to becoming a serious break until it suddenly happens, and you find yourself tumbling. Don’t take the risk- buy or borrow a better ladder every time

2.            Use the right ladder for the job. If you need to get up very high, and there’s a wall to support your ladder, use an extension ladder. If you need better balance, don’t have to reach too high and have flat ground below you, use a step ladder.

3.            Check the weight limit on the ladder. Most are somewhere between 200-300 lbs., and if you need it to hold more weight, you’ll need to buy one that can handle it.

4.            Check the tread on your shoes and the ladder itself. This might seem like not much of a big deal, but if either your shoes or the ladder (much less both) have been worn down too much, slipping is a definite possibility. And you just don’t want that to happen when you’re high off the ground on a metal object.

5.            Clean the ladder and shoes of any dirt, ice or pretty much anything else that shouldn’t be there. Another seeming no-brainer, but you’d be surprised.

6.            If you’re worried about electricity or heat, don’t use a conductive ladder, such as one made of metal or wood. Fiberglass ladders are best in this case.


Safe Ladder Positioning

 1.            Do as much planning as possible before you set up and climb the ladder. What you’re basically trying to do is limit the amount of times you’ll need to move and climb the ladder, as logic says the less time on the ladder, the less of a chance of an accident occurring.

2.            The base of straight or extension ladders should be one foot away from the wall for every three feet that the ladder is tall. This is the ratio that’s best for balance and support, and if you don’t have room, you’ll want to come up with a better way of getting up to that spot.

3.            Make sure conditions are right to set up. This means no more wind than a slight breeze, no snow or ice and no wetness under the ladder (definitely don’t use it if it’s raining).

4.            Make sure the feet of the ladders are flat against the ground and secure. This could mean as little as simply setting them on concrete, or you may need to take a more extensive approach. If the ground’s not flat, try using shims or a ladder-leveler, or even dig a hole for the feet that makes them even. If it seems like it might slip, use ladder shoes with gripping rubber soles and secure the ladder to a supporting object that’s in the ground behind the feet. Tent pegs, tire irons, screwdrivers and other strong metal poles work well for this. Also, never set a ladder on anything that can move, including a drop cloth.

5.            When possible, attach extension and fixed ladders to the object they’re leaning against and use ladder mitts for extra grip.

6.            Extension ladders should have their top placed against a surface that is flat and firm, not uneven.

7.            Step ladders shouldn’t be above 20 feet tall.


 Climbing and Using the Ladder

 1.            Always hold on to the ladder with one hand.

2.            Climb up and down the ladder while facing it. Don’t ever climb up or down the other way.

3.            Don’t get yourself in a position where you need to hold an object in one hand while also painting with the other. Use the built-in shelf on most step ladders or find another way so that you can use one hand to hold the ladder at all times.

4.            Try not to climb the ladder with objects in your hands. Place them up on the shelf beforehand (for a step ladder with a shelf) or pull them up with a rope.

5.            Avoid letting your waist go higher than the top of the ladder. If you need to go much higher than that, you need a taller ladder.

6.            If you have to lean out sideways where your hips are beyond the edge of the ladder, you should go back down and move the ladder over.


Further Ladder Safety

 1.            Never let anyone walk or stand beneath the ladder.

2.            Take any tools down with you when you get off, never leave them up on the ladder when it’s not in use.

3.            Take the ladder down immediately when you no longer need it.

4.            Always climb ladders one at a time, never with more than one person per ladder.

5.            Never set up a ladder near a power line or other dangerous item.

It’s mostly common sense, but using a ladder is something we hope everyone takes the time to be safe about. It’s just not worth the few saved minutes or dollars to risk your health and even life, so use this list to check your ladder habits and make sure everyone stays happy and harm-free.

Original Source:…y-with-ladders/ ‎

Image Source: OSHA


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