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Playing it Safe with Portable Ladders – Inspection, Use and Maintenance

Playing it Safe with Portable Ladders – Inspection, Use and Maintenance

Portable ladders are some of the most commonly used equipment by many DIY enthusiasts when fixing stuff around the home. This is due to the fact that the ladders are handy, they are simple and easy to use and their versatility makes them useful for a wide range of applications. However, proper use of the portable ladders has been a great for many people in the industry. Accidents arising from the ladders have seen a sharp ascent and this makes it imperative for everyone to ensure the safe use of the ladders each and every time. Highlighted below are some tips to help you in inspecting, maintaining and using portable ladders in the right manner-:

Proper Ladder Inspection

The starting point of avoiding all accidents by portable ladders is to ensure proper ladder inspection by a qualified person each time before the ladder is used. The inspection aims at identifying visible defects which might potentially compromise the integrity of the ladder, and consequently, the safety of the users. General inspection for portable ladders should focus on the following-:

  • Check for any damages, lose parts or missing components

  • Ensure the steps are tight and properly secured

  • Movable parts be tested for smooth operation, but should not move too much freely

  • They should be free from slippery materials such as oils and grease

  • The ladder must have slip resistant materials fixed as the base e.g. rubber matting

In addition to the general inspection outlined above, different types of ladder will require specific inspection criteria. For instance, when dealing with-:

  1. Metal ladders – ensure that; there are no bends or breaks, no damage from corrosion, no lose nails, bolts or screws, tags to warn against using around electrical equipment, fitted with rubber matting for additional grip at the base.

  2. Wooden ladders – inspect for; holes and knots, the integrity of the rails and rungs, cracks, splits, chips and splinters present in the rails, and wiggly or lose parts.

  3. Plastic or fiberglass ladders – ensure that; there are no chips, cracks and splinters on the ladder, no bends or breaks and that the rails and the rungs are not deformed due to environmental, heat or chemical exposure.

Proper Use of the ladder

For safety and efficiency when working with portable ladders, keep the following in mind-:

Position the ladder correctly – begin by clearing the area around where you want to position the ladder and free it from unwanted materials. The base of the ladder should be away from places with high traffic such as hallways, doorways or passageways. Also check to see that the ladder has a tight grip on the ground (you can use rubber matting for extra grip), and it isn’t moving in any way before climbing on top.

Secure the ladder properly – the ladder ought to be secured properly to avoid slippage while in use.

Do not overload the ladder – be sure not to overload the portable ladders and always work within the maximum recommended loads for each ladder type you are using.

Follow safe work practices – for instance, ask for help when you need it, don’t use the ladder when under influence of alcohol or when feeling sick or dizzy and don’t take shortcuts with the ladder.

Maintenance of the ladder

Proper maintenance is crucial for the safety of the operator and the sustained use of the portable ladder. Below are some of the maintenance practices worth considering when dealing with a portable ladder-:

  • Keep the ladder and its accessories, including matting in good condition at all times

  • Damaged ladders should be withdrawn from service to be repaired or destroyed

  • Protect all wooden ladders used outdoors from harsh weather conditions. Remember never to paint a wooden ladder.

  • No material should be stored on the ladders

  • While moving the ladders, ensure that they are properly supported and secured

  • When not in use, store the portable ladders on appropriate racks

  • The ropes used on extension ladders ought to be in good condition at all times

  • If a ladder is missing steps, cleats, rungs, side rails, and safety feet or have any other defects, they should never be used.

  • Avoid the ladder from coming into contact with grease, oils or slippery materials and clean it regularly.

These tips are sufficient to guarantee you with safe use, maintenance and inspection of your portable ladders. Remember, it prudent to take necessary precautions instead of being sorry after you experience an accident with the ladder due to poor maintenance or lack of proper inspection before use.

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