At some point, you may be requested to hold a ladder for someone depending on the situation. Maybe, there aren’t appropriate objects to firmly hold the ladder.
Should you hold a ladder for someone? Yes, you can but you should exercise some cautions. Here’s our in-depth guide on how to hold a ladder for someone safely.
How to Hold a Ladder for Someone Safely
Holding a ladder for someone risks both your lives. To carry out, you should observe safety as this article recommends with the following tips;
1. Ensure the Ladder Length is Safe for the Job
Keenly inspect the ladder before accepting to hold it for someone. The ladder setup should meet the 4-to-1 OSHA rule.
Observe the height to the intended working location and the ladder length to ensure it’s safe to hold.
Please do not make the ladder reach further by resting its base on blocks or other objects. It may slide and injure both of you.
2. Inspect the Ladder Condition
Inspect the rungs and the ladder rails before holding. If the rungs are loosely mounted, ensure you tighten the bolts. On the other hand, if the aluminum rails are broken, or wooden rails are split, you risk injuring your hands.
Secondly, ensure the ladder rungs and rails are free from mud, oil, or grease. These slipping substances may cause accidents.
3. Set up the Ladder
You must set the ladder on a firm and level surface. If the surface is slippery, place the ladder base on a mat or other necessary materials to create traction.
Ensure one ladder foot doesn’t sit on a lower spot than the other and don’t use wood or any leveling material. It poses a higher risk.
Ensure the rails don’t lean sideways to the surface on the top side. Also, avoid unstable parts like the gutters. Let the top lie on a stable surface for safety.
4. Test Whether You Are Physically Ready
Have your colleague climb up three or half the rungs and feel if you are fit to hold the ladder in position. If the ladder wobbles or you feel unsafe with the weight, you better not proceed.
5. Maintain the Points of Contact
Hold the ladder firmly while facing it if you feel fit to proceed with the task. Then, place your feet on each rail base to secure them from sliding. While holding, you can either;
- Secure the ladder base with one foot and both hands holding each rail.
- Secure the ladder base with two feet and one hand firmly supporting one side rail.
- Secure the ladder base with both feet and the rails with both hands.
6. Avoid Distractions and Maintain Communication
If you experience an emergency like the urge to relieve yourself, communicate to your colleague to climb down before releasing the ladder.
On the other hand, avoid obstructions like staring at other people or activities. Ensure you are focused on the ladder.
Optional Tips to Use a Ladder Alone
Because of the increased dangers of someone holding a ladder for you, it should be the last decision. Working alone with the ladder is safer than someone holding it for you because you minimize the lives that may face risk.
To carry out your work, follow these tips;
- Attach the ladder to the nearby anchor points on the top with a hook or a rope. Afterward, wedge something like a block or wood on the base to prevent the ladder from sliding.
- Use the ladder stabilizer devices if possible. The stabilizer devices are pulled out to extend on the foot surface to add traction. And on the upper side, they are hooked on the ladder to lean on the safest part of the roof.
- Use a step ladder as an option for the extension ladder. Step ladders have the best stability because they have three or four rails to support the surface.
Safety Rules of Using a Ladder Alone
- If using a step ladder, ensure the spreaders are locked down to prevent the rails from moving.
- Never sit or step on the top of the ladder. Step on the third rung from the top for stability.
- Only climb the ladder using the front side. Don’t use the backside.
- Keep your hips leaning on ladder rails for balance while working.
- Don’t leave the ladder unattended after completing your job or while taking a break. Instead, fold and lay it in a safe place.
Modern inventions have minimized ladder risks by introducing safety methods. However, it’s good you’ve learned how to hold a ladder for someone if circumstances push you.
References and Citations:
American Ladder Institute (ALI): Basic Ladder Safety- https://www.americanladderinstitute.org/page/BasicLadderSafety
Duke Occupational & Environmental Safety Office: Five Rules for Ladder Safety -https://www.safety.duke.edu/news-events/five-rules-ladder-safety