Published: 09/30/2010 by Everything Gutter
When using a ladder to service your gutters or, honestly, for any reason at all, safety should always be your number one concern. Annually, there are approximately 222,000 people taken to the emergency room for ladder-related injuries. What’s more, many of these accidents occur because of improper ladder use, and could have been prevented simply by taking a few precautions before hopping on the ladder. Follow these guidelines for safe ladder usage and to prevent a trip to the hospital.
First and foremost, avoid using a ladder alone. Having a friend help while you’re working can make your job infinitely safer, and can give you an extra set of hands on the ground. Give the whole ladder a thorough inspection to ensure the ladder is solid and completely free of rust or visible damage. Make sure the ground you’ll be setting the ladder on is a firm, even surface, free of ice, water, and loose debris. Also, remember to look up and spot the power lines before carrying or using your ladder, and always avoid using metal ladders around electrical hazards.
The proper angle for setting up an extension ladder is based on how tall the ladder is; the base of the ladder from the side of your house should always be a quarter of the total height of the ladder. For instance, if your extension ladder is 12 ft. high, the base of the ladder should be 3 ft. away from the side of the house. When positioning your ladder, don’t lean the ladder against your gutters – not only do you risk crushing or damaging them, but the coating on your gutters is slick and offers very little resistance against your ladder, thus greatly reducing the stability of the ladder in general.
When you’re ready to make the climb, have your friend hold the base of the ladder while you scale it, always maintaining the three points of contact (2 feet/1 hand or 2 hands/1 foot). Never extend your arms over your head to reach your gutters, because you’ll swing your center of gravity too high and end up in the ER. The same principle applies to extending your reach too far laterally, as well- if you remember to keep your body centered and between the stringers of your ladder to maintain stability, you shouldn’t have any problems. Granted, you’ll have to climb up and down the ladder several times to reposition it as you work along the gutter run, but your patience will be rewarded with good health and unbroken bones.
Lastly, as always, make sure to thank your friend for their time and patience, and be sure to return the favor as soon as you can.