New Roofer Training Guide: How To Safely Use An Extension Ladder

Posted on: 28 July 2016

Even seasoned roofers fall off of ladders. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes that in 2014, 4,821 workers were killed on the job and 20.5% of all deaths were in the construction trades. The leading cause of deaths, almost 40%, of those killed in the construction trades was from workers falling off of things like ladders.  The Center for Disease Control states that 81% of injuries construction workers suffer result from falling off of ladders. If you are a new roofer entering the construction industry, one of the challenges you will face is how to properly and safely use an extension ladder in your daily activities. Here is a brief guide on how to safely use an extension ladder.

Inspecting ladder

Before using a ladder, you need to inspect it to make sure it hasn't somehow gotten damaged or has deteriorated to the point where it is unsafe -- even if you have just used the ladder a few days before. You should check the side rails to see if you notice any twisting or bending. You also want to look at the steps to make sure they are not bent or broken off from the railings. Lastly, the pull rope to raise the extension and the pulley the rope goes through should be in good shape. The inspection takes only a moment, but should be done every time you set up the ladder to climb up to a roof. If you see anything wrong, don't use the ladder. Set it aside to have it repaired and find another ladder to use.

Placement of Ladder

The ladder should be set up on an angle away from the building. To make sure you have the proper angle, you should put your toes up against the ladder's base and stand up straight. Reach your arm out and touch the step on the ladder across from your shoulder. You should only be able to touch the step with your fingertips of your outstretched out hand. If you can't touch the step with your fingertips, the ladder is angled too far away from the wall and the bottom could slide out while you are climbing it. If you can easily grab the step, the ladder is too close to the wall and it could easily fall over sideways while you are climbing.

The ladder should always be placed on a level surface. If you are setting up the ladder on uneven ground, you should take a board and place things under it to give it a level surface. You can then set the footers at the base of the ladder on the board.

The ladder should be tied off at the top to the gutter system or pipe coming out of the roof for extra safety.

Climbing Ladder

The 3-Point system is used to climb an extension ladder. This means that as you climb the ladder only one foot or hand will be off of the ladder while the remaining hands and feet are on or grabbing a step. You should not use the rails to grab onto while climbing as your hand can easily slip. You should also never carry things up the ladder on your shoulder or in your hands. Any large and/or heavy objects should be pulled up to the roof with a pulley system or a conveyor belt.

If you follow these steps while using an extension ladder, you'll increase your chances that you won't fall off of the ladder while you are working on a roof.

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