Ladders and Access: How to Get Safely Above It All

Safety up above is all important, and to carry out the necessary jobs of home maintenance higher up needs reliable means of access. The choice of access method requires thought, as does the right way to go about putting up ladders and scaffolding. A working ‘drill’ aloft is vital to prevent hazard, both above and to those below.

Pull out from bottom once in place. Ideal angle is one quarter of ladder height The main, general-purpose ladder for work outside the house is the extension ladder. The uprights are known as ‘strings’ or ‘stiles’ and the cross-pieces, spaced at about 255mm intervals, are called ‘rounds’ or rungs. When choosing a wooden ladder, look for stiles of straight-grained fir, hemlock, pine or spruce. While spruce is the best timber, this is becoming scarce. Grain should run parallel with the edge of the stile if the ladder is of the finest quality. The best rungs are made from ash or oak.

The basic difference between a wooden and an aluminium ladder is that the latter costs more but weighs less. Aluminium ladders are also free from any tendency to warp. However, a good-quality wooden ladder, if it is well protected and not mistreated, should not warp.

Never paint a ladder, for this will serve to hide defects. Use varnish or a coat of clear wood preservative. Before use, always examine a timber ladder for cracked or rotted rungs and for any loose joints. Avoid leaving a timber ladder on the ground when not in use. Ideally, it should be stored in the rafters of a shed or garage where air can circulate around it.

Another way to store a ladder is on brackets fixed to a wall, with the ladder hung along these. Locate the ladder away from prevailing winds and cover it with a plastic sheet or tarpaulin. As a precaution against theft, it can be padlocked.

Aluminium ladders can conduct electricity but this is not usually likely to be a danger hazard. Ensure that the ladder is kept clear of any overhead domestic electricity supply. Because of the smooth construction of aluminium ladders, care must be taken to ensure that these are very firmly secured at top and bottom when erected, and are fitted with rubber feet which will exert grip and stop sliding.

Extension ladders suitable for reaching the eaves of the typical two-storey home are in two sections and called double-extension ladders. The second piece has clips to fit on to the rungs of the first section. There are various sizes of ladder. A 4.27m ladder which extends to about 7.30m is adequate for the average home.

This can be hand-operated by one man, other than in awkward situations, though assistance should be obtained where possible. If a ladder is extended over a height of 3m, someone should stand on it, or the ladder should be anchored firmly. Ladders extending higher than this are usually rope-operated.

Try to get someone to stand on the bottom when raising a ladder. However, you can prevent the ladder from slipping backwards by driving two stakes into the ground and securing to these.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ladders and Access: How to Get Safely Above It All

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