Ladders are one of the most ancient tools still in use in the modern world. The first recorded image of one is on a Mesolithic rock painting that dates back some 10,000 years, and they have been in constant use throughout civilisation.
They have traditionally been manufactured from all sorts of material such as bamboo and hard wood but most modern ladders are built using aluminum because of its lightness and strength.
However, just because we have been using this primitive technology for thousands of years, it doesn’t mean that using ladders isn’t dangerous. Each year in the UK alone, 90,000 people are injured using them and deaths are not uncommon.
They can slide, tip, slip, break and buckle so it is important to recognise the potential risks before using a ladder. However, one of the most important things that can be done in ensuring that a height can be scaled safely is to ensure you have the right ladder for the right job.
Choosing the correct ladder is vitally important and there are several key areas to look at:
Firstly, you must consider how height you will need be working at. If you are working over 5 metres (16 ft) off the ground then an extension ladder will be necessary otherwise standing on the limit of a ladder can cause accidents so it is important to remember that the ladder should extend a few rungs higher that your standing position.
Secondly, it is important to assess how much weight you will be carrying up the ladder including any tools and yourself. Step ladders provide a sturdy platform for tools and accessories, such as trays, can be purchased for addition to the ladder.
Thirdly, you must consider the floor space you are working around. A ladder placed too vertical could topple whilst too much angle could lead it to slip. Don’t use an overly tall ladder in a confined space – and a ladder precariously balanced on another object is guaranteed to cause an accident.
Finally, it is important to check both the floor surface and surface the ladder will be leaning on. Ensure the ladder has sufficient grip on the floor and surface will prevent any accidental slipping.
Ladders are ancient tools that are still incredibly useful in the modern age – as long as they are used properly.