Ladder rungs are the type of structure that can support a person’s weight when ascending or descending. In addition, ladder rungs serve as a handhold for the person ascending or descending simultaneously. Many ladder rungs can be horizontal or vertical. Typically in a straight, looped, and octagonal design type of ladder made of different materials, including metal, wood, or plastic, usually evenly spaced. (Below) in this article, you’ll find some valuable tips on choosing the right ladder based on a few aspects such as type, length, load capacity, and material, to name a few.
How to Choose the Right Ladder
Not all ladders are rated for the same types of applications. For this reason, you should evaluate your work environment. First, let’s look at the four factors to consider when choosing a ladder including ladder type, ladder length, ladder load capacity, and ladder material. So which ladder is right for you? Let’s look at the variety of options available.
- Stepladder: Stepladders are ideal for low to medium-height jobs. They are self-supporting, non-adjustable ladders suitable for professional and domestic tasks such as painting or changing light bulbs.
- Platform Ladder: Platform ladders are excellent for standing tasks for prolonged periods. They also reduce the risk of standing or sitting at unsafe levels than regular ladders can present.
- Twin Front Ladder: Twin front ladders are a particular type of ladder because they are designed for jobs where two people have to be on a ladder simultaneously. You can climb Twin front ladders from any side, and the load capacity applies to both sides independently.
- Extension Ladder: Extension ladders are designed for elevated altitude tasks, such as working on roofs and painting building exteriors. They are also not self-supporting and require an overhead support surface to lean. They are adjustable in length, making them very adaptable and suitable for a wide variety of jobs.
There are also a variety of special-purpose ladders, such as tripods and aircraft ladders, which are used for specific industries and tasks associated with operations within them. Once you have identified the correct ladder type for your job, the next step is to choose the right length.
Never use a ladder that is too long or too short for the job.
- Stepladder Length: If you need to stand on or above the first rung below the top, your ladder is too short, and you should use a taller ladder. To identify the correct ladder length, think about the maximum height you will need to stand; the full standing size is indicated on the model label. For example, if you need to stand more than three feet, you will need to use a six-foot ladder because it will allow you a maximum height of three feet nine inches.
- Extension Ladder Length: Your extension ladder is too short if you need to stand on or above the third rung from the top. Keep in mind that the overlap between the base and fly sections and the required 75.5-degree mounting angle reduce the maximum height of extension ladders. Suppose you want to reach a maximum height of 13 feet, then a 20-foot extension ladder is required. A 20-foot extension ladder allows for a maximum height of 13.5 feet.
Once you have identified the type and height of the ladder, it’s time to choose the load capacity.
Ladder Load Capacity
When choosing the proper load capacity, consider your weight and the weight of the tools or materials you will be using while working on it. The American National Standards Institute recognizes five load capacity ratings for ladders, which are as follows.
- Type 1AA: Has a load capacity of 375 pounds, and this ladder is recommended for extra heavy-duty use.
- Type 1A: Have a load capacity of 300 pounds, and these ladders are also rated for extra heavy-duty use.
- Type 1: Has a load capacity of 250 pounds and is recommended for heavy-duty use.
- Type 2: Have a load capacity of 225 pounds and are recommended for medium-duty use.
- Type 3: They have a load capacity of 200 pounds and are recommended for light use.
And finally, you must choose the material for the ladder.
You can choose the material of the ladder from aluminum or fiberglass.
- Aluminum Ladder: Aluminum ladders are lightweight, making them easier to lift, transport, and assemble. They are ideal for roofing, siding installation, painting, or window cleaning. Note: You should never use an aluminum ladder near an electrical source.
- Fiberglass Ladder: Fiberglass ladders are a little heavier than aluminum ladders but are made especially for working near electrical circuits and wires. Once you’ve identified which ladder is suitable for the job, it’s time to check for damage or missing parts.
How to Implement a Ladder Setup Routine
It is helpful to follow a configuration routine for a stable and secure setup.
Inspect Your Ladder
Thoroughly inspect your ladder for bent, worn, broken, or missing parts. Check that all rails are not bent or cracked and that each rung or step is not bent, defective, or with loose connections. Ensure that the ladder feet are not broken or malfunctioning and that the non-slip pads are intact and secure. When applicable, check the ropes of the extension ladder for fraying and test the ropes and pulleys to confirm that they operate smoothly.
- On Extension Ladders: Also, check the rung locks to make sure they are not bent, cracked, or broken and that they are functioning properly
- On Stepladders: Inspect the rung rails and breakaway brackets. Independently of the ladder you use, make sure the rungs or steps are clean and free of oil, grease, wet paint, or any other slippery substance.
Finally, check the feet of the ladder to ensure a solid, sturdy base. If you find a defect, such as a loose footpad, your ladder is unsafe, and you will need to tag it for repair or discard it. If you take a few minutes to inspect your ladder and the safety standards set forth by OSHA, ANSI, and CSA, you will make your home or workplace much safer. It is crucial to inspect your ladder every time you use it thoroughly.
First, check that the floor around your ladder is free of clutter. Even small objects, such as nails or construction debris, can cause the ladder legs to slip. Next, extend the ladder until the spreader suspenders are locked in place. Also, make sure that the ladder is placed on dry ground and that the floor surface is level, and that all four of the ladder’s legs are in firm contact with the ground without wobbling. Note: Never climb a ladder that is not fully open because it is not stable.
Extension Ladder Setup
Extension ladders have unique setup rules.
To set an extension ladder: First, place the feet of the ladder against the fixed object to prevent the bottom from sliding out. Next, place the ladder in an upright position and, when raising the fly section, check that the rung locks are fully engaged in the rungs of the base. The extension ladder must always extend at least three feet above the roofline or top support point to access a roof, per OSHA and ANSI.
You should support extension ladders on a solid surface at a 75.5-degree angle for maximum stability. An extension ladder set at an angle greater than 75 degrees can cause the ladder to tip. And an angle less than 75 degrees can cause the ladder to slip out. Finally, never reposition, extend, or retract the fly section of an extension ladder while standing on the ladder or from above.
To further stabilize your extension ladder: First, anchor it with tie-downs. Before climbing, make sure the ladder’s feet are on a firm, level surface. Use the spike position for porous surfaces or tie down the ladder’s base if necessary. Secure the bottom with tie-downs before climbing, and further secure the ladder by engaging the ladder’s quick-release latch. Most ladder manufacturers offer many accessories to maximize accessibility, stability, and safety.
When working against a pole: Use the pole attachment for a more secure configuration.
If working with cable: Mount the cable hooks at the top of the ladder.
If the ground or ground under the ladder is not level: Use a ladder leveler and never climb a ladder that is not on a level surface. Remember always to be aware of your surroundings.
When setting up your ladder near a gate or any door: Close or block it so that it cannot open onto your ladder. If you set up your ladder in a traffic lane, secure the area with barriers or caution tape so that no one walks or drives equipment near your ladder. And before climbing, always check for wires or other obstacles overhead.
7 Simple Tips to Follow When Using a Ladder
- When working on a ladder, do not allow more than one person to work simultaneously on a single-sided stepladder or extension ladder, as they are designed to hold only one person at a time.
- Do not attempt to cut anything while on a ladder.
- Don’t stand or sit on a bucket rack because it is not made to support your weight.
- Never tie two ladders together to make a more extended section.
- When on an extension ladder, don’t step over the top when climbing onto a roof; instead, step sideways onto the roof.
- When working on a ladder, never overextend, lean to one side, or stand on one foot, because you can lose balance and tip the ladder over.
- And, of course, never use a ladder for anything other than its intended purpose.
Now let’s look at the proper ways to carry and transport a ladder.
How to Carry and Transport a Ladder
- Carrying a Ladder: When moving a ladder yourself, ensure that the front is slightly higher than the rear. You can also support the ladder with the center balanced on your shoulder with your arm across the ladder. And make sure the ladder is completely closed when you carry it.
- Transporting a Ladder: When transporting a ladder in a vehicle, tie and secure both ends to the ladder rack to prevent vibration between the ladder and the vehicle. Ensure that the upper and lower sections are secured to the ladder rack for extension ladders. Place the quick release in the locked position, which will prevent the top section from extending during transport.
How to Maintain a Ladder
- Quickly remove moisture from the ladder with a dry and clean shop towel.
- Never drop or throw ladders as this may damage or weaken them.
- Keep ladders protected from adverse weather conditions and corrosive materials.
- Never use a ladder that has been exposed to fire, acids, caustic substances, or other harsh chemicals, as these can damage or weaken the ladder.
- Keep them clean and lightly lubricate moving parts, such as suspenders, hinges, latches, and pulleys.
- As I mentioned earlier, never use a damaged ladder, label and store it away from usable ladders and have it repaired or discard it as soon as possible.