Ladder Safety: Take it from the Pros

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Photo: Gary Silva

By Gary R.K. Silva

On a construction site, there are four ways to get hurt: falling, electrical shock, getting struck by something, or getting caught in between things. Of these, falling is the most common cause of injury. Guess what workers fall from the most? You got it: ladders. Here are some simple safety tips from the construction field that you can apply at home.

Tip #1: Three touch-points. Always be sure that at least three of your two arms and two legs are touching the ladder at all times. As you climb up a ladder, use only one arm or one leg at a time. Keep the other three limbs on the ladder. This ensures equilibrium on the ladder.

Tip #2: Never reach sideways from a ladder. This causes the ladder to lose its balance. If you need to reach something to the far right or left of the ladder, it is safest to climb down the ladder, move the ladder to the right or left, then climb back up the ladder.

Tip #3: Place top of the ladder at least 3 feet above the roof line. When you are using an extension ladder that leans against the wall of a building, make sure the top of the ladder is at least 3 feet above the roof line. This will ensure that the ladder does not slip, and it gives you a solid platform to step off the ladder onto the roof and to step back onto the ladder when you are ready to come down.

Tip #4: Top ladder step is not for standing or sitting. Never sit or stand on the top step or rung of an A-frame ladder. It is not built for that. If you were to lose your balance, there is nothing in the ladder’s structure to keep you from falling.

Tip #5: Keep assistance nearby. Always have someone nearby to help you if needed. This person can hold the ladder as you are climbing up or down. While you are on the roof, a gust of wind can knock the ladder down. Making sure someone else is nearby, if needed, will provide an extra layer of safety.

As you are doing work around your home, think of safety. Your health and safety are worth every ounce of caution.


Gary Silva is an OSHA instructor and President & C.E.O. of Kaululaukoa Inc. a C-5 construction company. For more information, you may reach him by phone at (808) 220-4163 or email mona.be@yahoo.com.