Ladders have a notorious reputation for accidents and injury. They account for quite a few falls and serious incidents each year, but often it is not the fault of the ladder at all. Most accidents usually occur when either the wrong type of ladder is used, it was damaged, or excessive weight was put on or carried up the ladder which caused it to either tip or the user to fall.
Ladders are perfectly safe pieces of equipment to use, only as long as proper precautions are taken and one of the most important things ot remember is the type of weight a ladder is designed to carry and how to use equipment and tools when working at height.
All types of ladder have a tolerance for the mount of weight they can hold. This should ever be exceeded. While aluminium is strong of the tolerances are exceeded it could lead to a rather nasty accident.
One consideration when it comes to weight and ladders is to consider your own. If you underestimate your own weight you could end up breaching the tolerance of the ladder without realising it so ensure you have a rough idea how heavy your are too.
When it comes to carrying tools, equipment or materials up a ladder extra care should be taken. Tools should be in a belt and if you are using a leaning ladder then nothing should be carried up. If you need materials consider winching them up first or consider using either a step-ladder, if possible – or even scaffolding.
Step-ladders are ideal for suing tools and equipment as the step can hold the weight while you work on the ladder. They are restricted on the amount of height they can reach though but there are other methods of working with large or heavy equipment without taking risks on a leaning ladder.
Roof ladders hang down rather than being supported up. This makes it easier to lower equipment and tools down if there is access to the roof.
Sometimes, however, there is no alternative than to use an leaning or extension ladder. Fortunately there are trays and other accessories available that can assist when you need to place equipment and tools on the ladder.