Extension Ladders If the job requires working more than 12′ off the ground, an extension ladder is the only way to go. Relatively easy to set up, they’re usually more rigid than combination ladders. These straight ladders are not self-supporting, however, so they must lean against a stable support to be safe enough to use. They can also be awkward or heavy to carry, despite being light for their length.
Louisville Ladder’s 6′ stepladder weighs only 16 pounds, but supports up to 225 lbs.: louisvilleladder.com.
HOW TO USE A LADDER
It’s surprising how many accidents are caused by a failure to pay attention to ladder-safety basics. Follow these rules:
Never use a damaged ladder or one that appears to be unsafe (i.e., rickety when you stand on a lower step).
• Place the ladder’s supports on a solid, level surface.
• Only one person at a time on the ladder.
• Never use a ladder during high winds, or on slippery surfaces (ice or snow).
• For stepladders, make sure the ladder is completely open with the hinges locked before climbing.
• Position an extension or straight ladder at a safe angle against the house or wall. (If the angle is too steep, a person on the ladder can tilt backward as they approach the top.) Set the ladder at least 1′ away from the wall for every 4′ of height.
• Check that any locks are secured on adjustable or extension ladders.
• Face the ladder and maintain three points of contact when climbing (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand).
• Use a spotter on the ground to make sure the ladder stays steady, preferably by supporting the base when the ladder is in use.
• Use a tool belt or towline to convey any materials for the job so that hands are free when climbing.
Conversion Ladders Room for just one ladder in your shed? Consider this all-purpose type that opens like a standard 6′ stepladder, but converts to a push-up extension ladder to double your reach.