Maximize Your Safety with Footed Step Ladders: The Importance of Ladder Feet

Do Step Ladders Need to Be Footed

Ladder owners are constantly searching for ways to use ladders safely and securely. These equipment should only be used when they have been properly assessed using criteria from a risk assessment guideline.

This is because ladders can be dangerous if used wrongly. And so many safety regulation bodies have highlighted a few ways in which ladder users can be more secure. Ladder footing is not a new concept in the ladder community, in this post we are going to analyze what it is all about.

Do You Need to Foot Your Ladder?

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), ladder footing is only necessary when other forms of ladder security are nonexistent or do not do a good job of securing it.

Footing your ladder is the process of a person holding the ladder firmly in place while you climb. The person footing the ladder must ensure he has a firm grasp while holding onto the ladder’s stiles while you climb up and down the ladder.

To ensure safety, ladder users are advised to avoid footing very long ladders as it could result in ladder damage and fall accidents. Instead, adequately securing your ladder is the right way to ensure that you use your ladder safely.

However, the method or equipment you will utilize in securing your ladder will depend on the type of task you need to perform with that ladder. While securing your ladder does not mean you are free from every form of ladder accidents, you can be sure that your ladder will hold up while you’re working.

To increase your chances of using your ladder safely, you must abide by all ladder safety regulations that apply to the project you intend to carry out.

How to Effectively Secure a Ladder

When it comes to properly securing your ladder, there are several methods you can employ that will get the job done properly.

As we have stated, the method you are to use to secure your ladder is dependent on the nature of the job you intend to use the ladder for. You must select the method of securing  your ladder that is best for that task.

That means that the method must lower any risk involved in that job, or at least control the dangers associated with the project. There are several methods you can employ. We have listed a few popular methods and equipment that will ensure optimum safety all through the duration of your work. 

It is important to note that before you can safely secure your ladder, you first have to inspect your ladder from top to bottom. This process of inspection will determine if your ladder is even suitable to be used for that particular task.

You must also ensure that you take environmental conditions like weather into consideration when determining if a ladder is suitable for that task.

Tie the Stiles

One guaranteed way to properly secure your ladder is by tying the ladder stiles in place. Before you can do this however, you must ensure you properly inspect every part of the ladder, especially the stiles.

In the case of the ladder stiles being bent, damaged, or wobbly, ensure you refrain from using the ladder altogether as this could result in either the ladder collapsing while you climb, or the foot of the ladder giving way.

In many cases, you can solve the problem of securing your ladder by simply tying the stiles. This will ensure the ladder is safe to be used.

However, this still needs to be confirmed by a risk assessment test. This test should be carried out by a competent ladder expert rather than being done independently. To properly fasten the stiles together, you can utilize straps or ropes that will hold the stiles in place.

You can tie the stiles to a window frame or handrail depending on which structure is more firm and reliable.

It is important to ensure you tie the stiles correctly and refrain from tying the rungs or feet of the ladder. If you intend to reach an area one meter above the surface, it is advisable you tie the stiles to a point that is a meter from the top of the ladder.

Utilizing a Ladder Stabilizing Device

In the event that you cannot successfully tie your ladder stiles, you don’t have to worry, there is another option. You can simply utilize a ladder stabilizing device that will ensure you are stable and sturdy all through the duration which you’ll use the ladder.

Some  stabilizing devices that are great for tough projects include ladder standoff and stabilizers with base support. You can read our detailed article on the best ladder stabilizers.

In order to use any ladder structure that offers base support, you will need to attach the structure to the bottom of the ladder firmly. This structure will provide support to ladder users, and distribute the weight evenly around the ladder.

Some examples of these kinds of ladder structures include support legs, or boards with anti-slip features that lock the ladder feet firmly into place. The stand-off device maintains a strong steady point of contact at the top thereby ensuring  that the ladder maintains a strong resting point at the top of the ladder.

This method should be used if you intend to rest the ladder tip onto a plastic gutter or soft surface. This standoff device will support the ladder and ensure it doesn’t exert too much force onto the soft surface. 

Footing the Ladder

As we have earlier mentioned, you should only opt for footing your ladder if it’s your last option. While it is not a foolproof solution to ladder security, it provides ladder users with some security, stability, and strength. 

Ladder Regulations 

According to OSHA requirements, here are a few ladder regulations that guarantee safety and security while using ladders.

  1. Ladders must be used only for the purpose that suits their design.
  2. Ladder users must use non-self supporting ladders at a specific angle that the measured distance from the top to the foot of the ladder is one-quarter of the overall ladder working length.
  3. When working with wooden ladders that utilize spliced side rails, you should ensure that the ladders are used at an angle that is one-eighth the ladder’s total working length. 
  4. Fixed ladders should be used at a 90 degree pitch. This should be measured towards the back of the ladder for a more accurate result.
  5. Ladders should only be used on level, solid, and stable surfaces. If to be used otherwise, then special stabilizing mechanisms must be utilized to prevent any unwanted ladder displacement. 
  6. Ladders must not be used on or around slippery and unstable surfaces unless special slip resistant materials are used to ensure the ladders stay in place. 

Final Words

When using your ladder around slippery surfaces, slip-resistant feet should not be the first solution you attempt. You first have to attempt to change the slippery surface, if this is not possible, then you can resort to slip resistant feet.