The Basics of Extension Ladder Safety

Last week we covered step ladders (see “Step Ladder Safety“), this week we are going to look at extension ladders.

The basic safety rules for extension ladders are as follows:

  1. It is imperative that you understand that an extension ladder must extend 3 feet above the top landing and be at the right angle (we will explain this in a minute). Use this information to make sure that you have the right size ladder.
  2. Extension ladders extends as follows:
    1. Two-section ladders extend up to a maximum of 50 feet
    2. Three-section ladders extend to a maximum of 66 feet
  3. The correct angle for an extension ladder should be ¼, meaning that for every 3-4 feet up, the ladder should be 1 foot out away from the base. This means, for example, that it the height is 40 feet, the bottom of the ladder should be 10 feet away from the base.
  4. As with step ladders, always do a visual check of the ladder before each use and every time it is out of your sight for any length of time (you don’t know who might have taken it or used it when you weren’t looking and whether or not they did any damage).
  5. Always make sure that the bottom as well as the top of the ladder is set on a firm foundation. Do not set the ladder on crates, boxes, tables, etc… The foundation should be solid and unmoving (Not the flatbed of a truck, for example).
  6. The sections of the extension ladder must overlap by at least 3 feet.
  7. Always use the 3-point contact method and face the ladder when climbing up or descending.
  8. Secure the top of the ladder whenever possible to make sure that it does not slide.
  9. Always keep the top of landing as well as the base of the ladder clear of obstructions and debris.
  10. Use hoists and pulleys to raise and lower equipment, don’t try to keep them up yourself.
  11. When climbing up a ladder higher than 10 feet, you must use fall protection (a self-retracting lifeline with a tether, for example).
  12. Always be conscious of power lines when setting up or taking down an extension ladder.
  13. Never stand on the top three rungs