Ladder Safety Tips

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Ladders can give the upper hand to any job. Safety is especially important when working at higher altitudes. These seven handy hints will make your next ladder labor much easier and safer.

Tip for Descending a Ladder

Missing the bottom ladder rung or step when you're descending can be startling and dangerous. Club member Robert Moore of Fontana, California, has an eye-catching way to solve this problem. He spray-paints the step a bright color that's distinctly different than the ladder's color, such as a brilliant red or orange. This also helps to differentiate his ladder from others.

How to Ground a Ladder

Club member Jeff O'Brien of Greenfield, Wisconsin, had to erect a 32-ft. ladder on a steep hill to paint the side of a large house and wanted to make sure he had a stable base. Rather than build up the low side of the ladder with lumber scraps, he cut a series of 1 x 2-ft. level notches into the bank using a flat shovel. As soon as he was finished, he replaced the dirt and sod and watered it well. No one was the wiser.

How to Build a Painting Platform

When Club member Nicholas Clew of Farmington Hills, Michigan, decided to paint his house, he faced a challenge. To reach the upper portion of his home's walls, he'd need to stand on part of the roof. Of course, the roof lacked a flat surface on which to set equipment or raise a ladder. Nick solved the dilemma by constructing this platform from 2x4s and 3/4-in. plywood. With foam pads tacked to the undersides, the platform not only provides a firm, level work surface but also helps to reduce the stress on the shingles because Nick spends far less time walking on them.

How to Climb with Tools

Next time you need to tote tools up a ladder, try this tip from Club member Van Adams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Use a discarded plastic hanging-plant basket as a tool caddy. You can easily suspend it from a ladder rung, keeping your tools within reach, and its hanging hook doubles as a convenient carrying handle as you move up and down the ladder.

Ladder Work Tray Trick

Because his ladder didn't have a fold-down work tray, Club member James Callen of La Habra, California, couldn't attach his paint tray. So he built his own detachable work tray. He used a section of plywood outfitted with two end blocks and a support block underneath. The end blocks keep the paint tray from sliding off of the plywood platform, and the support block is grooved to fit over the ladder's aluminum cross brace, James even made a small tray that fastens to the top of the ladder for resting his paintbrush.


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