How to Set Up Ladders as Scaffolding and Renting Access Equipment
Learn the correct way to use a ladder and how to use two ladders as a platform. Also, find out the different types of access equipment that can be rented.
When purchasing a ladder, check that your choice meets current safety standards. Find out the maximum load that it can support. Store ladders horizontally and out of reach of children and potential burglars.
Securing a Ladder Before Climbing
The top of the ladder must rest against a solid surface. If possible, tie the top part of the ladder onto a solid structure on the wall, securing rope around the stiles of the ladder rather than the rungs. It may also be possible to tie it to a strong furring strip braced across the inside of a window with padding to protect the inside walls. Never stand on the top three rungs of a ladder and make sure cleats are securely engaged.
Aim to work on dry, solid, and level ground. On a soft surface, use a strong board underneath the feet to prevent them from sinking, and hammer stakes into the ground and tie the stiles to the stakes with rope.
- Never use a ladder near overhead electrical wires or equipment.
- Never use a ladder in front of a doorway unless someone else guards it.
- When positioning a ladder against a wall, make sure that the height of the top of the ladder is four times (4:1) the distance between the wall and the ladder's base. Many ladders have an angle guide printed on the side to help with this.
- Inspect a ladder thoroughly before use to ensure that there are no cracks or breaks. Check a wooden ladder for rot and a metal ladder for corrosion. Never paint a ladder: paint may hide any damage to the structure.
- Check ladder feet. A metal ladder should have rubber, slip-resistant feet.
- Check that the ladder is sturdy enough to support your weight.
Using Two Ladders and a Scaffold Board
This is an example of how to gain safe access to a stairwell. Use an extension ladder to extend from the stairs to the wall above it and a step ladder at the top of the stairs. You should use two scaffold planks tied together and secured at each end. The stepstool position shown here is very secure, but you may also reverse its orientation. Make sure the ladder obeys the 4:1 rule (previous page). Use cloth padding on the top of the extension to protect the wall. Make sure the planks are securely tied to stiles on both ladders.
Renting Platforms and Scaffolding
A number of designs are available for rent and these differ according to the surface on which they can be used and the height they can reach. Some you can operate yourself; for others, you will need to hire an operator. The rental company should be able to advise you as to the power lift that best suits your requirements. Lifts are expensive to rent, and therefore might be used only when there is no other option or if the amount of work and time saved by using a lift is of clear benefit.
This provides a safe platform for one or more people, depending on its specifications, and is useful for work that would be too arduous on a ladder. Most towers have several sections that slot and clip together in stages, building up to the required height. They are best used on solid ground; where a tower is built on soft ground, place sections of board under its feet to spread the weight, and ensure that it is level. Add stabilizers at the bottom to secure the tower in position, and tie it in to the building on the upper level. Some towers have wheels, and can be moved to different working positions, if resting on solid, level ground. Never move a tower when people, tools or materials are on any part of it.
The access provided by fixed scaffolding is essential for some jobs, such as roofing. It can also offer an opportunity to carry out exterior maintenance. For example, if the scaffolding is erected for roofing work, use the access to check the gutters, and reattach any loose downspouts. Erecting fixed scaffolding is a job for professionals, but check that the firm you employ has the correct certification or license and suitable insurance.