Ladder Safety

[COLOR=“teal”][SIZE=“4”][FONT=“Century Gothic”]This thread is dedicated to all those cleaners who have been injured or killed while using their ladders ! I hope all here will be safe ! [/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR]

[COLOR=“red”]Everyone here on the WCR External FORUM is invited and encouraged to reveal techniques and processes that they have acquired throughout their tenure as Window cleaners !

Infuse any stories of close calls or accident caused by pilot error while using a ladder, so we can reflect on and apply safety, is encouraged ! Even the simplest of safety technique will be helpful to everyones safety !
The first ladder safety technique…

This is a very very very simple put important process to ladder safety !

Once you have set your ladder (set meaning;ready to ascend) stand on the first rung and then pull or bounce your ladder away from the building and then let it softly land back on to the building…

If the top of the ladder does not land exactly where it was first set,step off the ladder and re-set it so that when you get on the first rung and pull the ladder away again, the top will land where you first set it !

Usually if the ladders top is not secure when you check it ,most likely it’s the base that is not set square with the top and when that is the case the top will move…better it moves while checking it on the first rung then having it move once you reach the top ! Check double check.

This is extremely crucial on all ladder sets especially at the tip of piece ladders where the tips are set on frames,mullions or corners ( they will roll where extension ladder will slide) ! Either failure can throw you off the ladder or cause the ladder to fall with you on it !

I once set my ladder against a flat roof that had a metal edge. Now I had been cleaning this particular window for around 6 years every 1/4 ! I would always use a piece ladder and set it in the corners, Getting it cleaned by using 2 sets.

This time I tried my 28’ alaco extension ladder in the center of the window against the metal edge of the roof fully extended to the third floor.

I went up a ladder without checking the set at the bottom rung…Which I knew that I should do but figured ah why worry I’ve been doing this long enough why worry (So I cut a corner in my safety process) !

I got all the way to the top without any movement then reached in to wet the window. That’s when the ladder began to slide ( metal on metal will slide, be aware).

This all took just moments…I thought it would stop sliding as it was sliding, I had nothing to grab,at the apex point that I knew the ladder was going and not stopping I figured I’d have a better chance if I jumped off…At least it would be me that determined how I would land (in this particular situation, in a different scenario jumping may have killed me).

So I looked down and there was a stair case that came down to a square 8’ landing that had another set of stair that continued down to the ground !

Now I new if I just fell that one of the rails would go right up my crotch or that I would slam my head against one of the rail, So I knew I needed to, l’d need to drop straight down into the center of the landing ! This all just took moments to think then jump !

I jumped and landed on my feet into a squat and into a roll…But I had no where to roll unless I went down the last five step and then I could of broke my neck ! So from the squat I could only go to my butt !

Well suffice to say I only got a hairline fracture in one of my feet and I survived the fall,but I could have been killed or seriously injured. I give God the credit for watching over me ! Because it was me that cut the safety corner that put me into dire strait.

Sure this is another wordy long story BUT if it causes others to (as the RACER said) " TO THINK FIRST " then it is worth it !

So check your ladder set from the first rung before you ascend, make it part of your physical anatomy, ergo like breathing or your heart pumping, making it happen automatically. YOUR LIFE OR OTHERS YOU TRAIN LIVES MAY DEPEND ON IT !


Think Things Through !

this thread will be interesting ! (then again ,most WCRthreads are interesting!,have a coolness to them)

a while back i was using a LADDERMAT. these are 4 pieces of spikey rubber,used to level a ladder OR use on slippy surface . one morning i decided to use the mat on a Quarry tile pathway. Once up my ladder the mat slipped and i came crashing down .it was all over in 1 or 2 seconds,no time to save myself. i got in touch with the inventor of these mats to tell him ,and he then tried to fob me off by posting me various test results for the mats. Then offered me free gifts.Finally he modified his promo video by taking out the wording about “good on slippy surfaces” ,
however he left the video up,its on Youtube,showing film of it being used on a quarry tile slippy surface

i was lucky to survive with just bruised feet ,shin and a bent ladder and never again will ladder on smooth or even slightly smooth surface

Hello Jonny…

Glad to here you survived your tumble. Say, so tell us all what you would now do under those same circumstances. What would you use, how would set your ladder so it won’t slide ?


i already have spikes fitted on my ladders,these are very popular here in the u.k. and they dig in on the smallest crack and i trust them on rough concrete. HOWEVER they dont work on quarry tiles as the gap between each tile is tiny. Since my fall i asked about on the british forums and learnt of lots of nasty falls on tiles/damp/mossy stone etc. (using safety devices)
But quarry tile paths are popular here and these tiles are still sold new so i cant avoid them. i now use a pole+wagtail to do EVERY upstairs window above tiles/damp stone floors

Johnny, I hope you posted a comment on that Youtube video to raise a question about the safety on quarry tile.

Another thing I do besides what Dange said about stepping on the first rung to see where the top goes- is push my ladder toward the bldg. against which it is resting, then see what the top of the rails do. If one bounces off the bldg. more than the other does I know the set is not good enough and needs to be adjusted.

Dan i did post a comment on youtube(not nasty,just factual) that triggered the inventor to contact me,annoyed,+worried i might claim? and he deleted all comments ! i think he probably is an ordinary ex-window cleaner chap who didnt realize the consequences of any safety invention that can fail. from what i know theres about 6 different anti-slip gizmos on the market but the trouble is, if the angle of the ground surface or even the ground temperature(ie a frosty morning) and then the grip is reduced + its potentially lulling you into a false security.

a link to laddermat video,if youre like me,you would have believed it was a great gripper from watching this YouTube - How to use the laddermat

Wow I had never heard of the Laddermat before, and to be honest- after watching that video I would not use it just based on what I saw. I’m not knocking it because I’ve never used it, but from what I saw, it looks very unstable and cheap to be honest. Maybe a step above sticking a few books under one leg of your ladder. I wouldn’t want to try it.

Personally, I try to use my Werner ladder with built in levelers, spikes and also a built in level as much as possible. Werner Ladder model number D1824-2EQ and I use it in conjunction with a [URL=“”]Ladder Stopper and when possible someone at the bottom as a spotter. Luckily I have not had any problems but as you mentioned earlier- any safety device can fail if the conditions are right or the operator makes a mistake.

Edit for additional info- the picture of the Ladder Stopper may not look like much, but mine is big and built like a tank. Its solid metal all around inside the rubber, and the rubber itself is textured like a good tire to channel away water and create more surface tension. I’ve been thinking of drilling a couple of holes into mine at each end so that I can run some 6 inch spikes through the holes and into the ground/wet lawn etc. for extra stability if the situation calls for it.

Is there a state-side source for ladder stoppers?
If not, do I need to know anything about ordering from Europe?

I checked out that u-tube vid… I do have several things to say about that video and most can sound negative.

All ladders should have leveler installed onto both rail of your ladder. They work universally on hills, inclines and on staircases. When you have them installed you don’t have to fuss with carrying things around like the product in the video.

Now level lock leveler are sold here at WCR and to be honest with you I’ve used those before and I thought they did an excellent job, they are really worth the money and make ladder work much, much safer.

They also have a tool here call the pivit tool but I’ve never used one, but there are those here that rave about It.

Another kind is called a ladder leveler which I’m using presently on my ladders, they can be be used on ladder up to 32’ ! I’m going to to try and put a picture here for all to see.

I believe WCR should start selling these because they’re what I go with, with them working as good as the level lock. The LL has a foot that can be turn to steak into the ground which keeps your ladder from sliding down hills !

Still leveler should be on all ladders even sectional ladders.

NOTE; leveler are not extenders, when finished on a hill or anywhere. close the leveler !

I knew a guy who never used leveler, he had a stabilizer bar on all his ladders and on steep inclines going up a 32’r or any of his ladders for that matter his ladder would only be standing on one foot and he’d go up and put his weight on the rungs side attached to the rail with the foot on the ground and he would trust the stabilizer to maintain him once he reach the top !

Now I would tell him all the time that that was an accident waiting to happen but he’d go into a tizzy and tell me leveler took more time and they were just for ding dongs to use ! Actually what he was doing was really stupid and he wouldn’t listen to common sense ! Oh well … I told him, but he worked for himself and I’d never have him work for me or any of my jobs ! I hope he survives !

One last point about the video you posted, the guy didn’t have a rope attached to his ladder to extend it that just don’t make no sense !

There you go Jon I hope your always thinking safe !


Brad-ster…Dange-ster here,

You know the ladder stopper is an excellent tool and I wish WCR would start selling them because they are a God send ! Yes there are places in the USA that does sell them but I can’t post it here because it’s against the rules… But if you pm me I’ll give you my email and then help you find one… Unless CHRIS L. can tell you they will be selling some soon !

That isn’t to be used in every situation but it can be used a lot ! Pricey but far cheaper then your life and limb !

I hope that helps !


It took a ladder fall to get hip to ladder safety. I took an OSHA class on ladder safety and found it very useful. I never put one up now without ladder mitts on the top. (That’s why I fell…sliiiiide). I also always use a ladder with levelers, either built in or add-ons. No more rocks and chunks of wood under the feet. OSHA says the base of the ladder needs to be 1 foot out from the wall for every 4 feet up the wall. They also use the belt buckle rule (though I don’t think they call it that) that says to always keep your belt buckle within the width of the ladder. Common sense is good too. Once I stood on the top rung of a 32 foot ladder, with a 4’ pole with a scraper on it to get over-spray off higher up windows. That was just dumb.


i found this video interesting .what do you laddermen think ? Ladder M8rix - YouTube . it interesting to hear him say that dont trust rubber outside,he sounds knowledgeable

i personally wont trust Anything now,its only months since my fall and im only now getting my confidence back on the higher ladders.

I have used rubber shelving liner or tool box liner as a non skid mat for doing work on smooth indoor surfaces. It doubles as a floor protector too. On the exterior, I flip the ladder shoes so that they dig into the soil if possible. Proper pitch is crucial on any surface. I have the Werner ladder safety training video that I show the crews at the start of spring every year. Not that great of a video if you ask me. It did have the belt buckle rule on their which i thought was a good tip.


Matt I’m glad you survived your fall…Ladders sliding is a major problems with ladder safety. Having ladder mitts on your ladder not only protect the building from being marred but they help your ladder from sliding.

Also having your ladder set properly is crucial to ladder safety. Another way to be sure your ladder is at the proper angle is when you set your ladder against the wall stand with your feet even with the foot of the ladder then you should be able to stretch one of your arms straight forward and grab the rung even with your shoulder !

I once knew of a cleaner who had his ladder set to far back on a slick wood deck. When he reached the top of the ladder it began to slide out from under him . By instinct he grab at the building to stop himself, well when he reached the bottom his hands broke through the bottom floor window and sliced both his hand thru his palms clear to the tendons. He needed micro surgery. He was lucky not to be killed or be sent into
vegeta-bility !

Ditto on standing on the top rung, that’s just an accident waiting to happen !

Thanks Matt for your input, if it helps to save a life or prevent an accident then it was well worth it !


Yes Jonny I thought what he had going looks to be a good device in certain places, but with those little spikes it can’t be used on decks or nice walkways !

Also on the first video you posted the fella didn’t have ladder shoes on his ladder. ladder shoes are a must they help your ladder to be more stable and to use them to keep from sinking in semi soft ground.

Most of the time Metallic Sectional ladder don’t come with feet unless you order them with it. That can be a good thing though because when you get them you can install a set of levelers ! Which should go on to every ladder !

Thanks for your input Jonny it has been a big plus !



Some good points about flipping your ladder shoes, that really helps embed them on a slippery hill. You know people use that rubber kind of stuff under rugs that lie on wood or vinyl floor so that the rug won’t slip. I think that’s a good idea for in houses like at the entry way or doing sky lites in kitchens or bathrooms when you have to bring in your ladder.

Once I read on here about a cleaner who was killed when he fell from his ladder cleaning a skylite !

Thanks for the input Mr. Winder you may have helped to save lives. That what this thread is all about,Saving lives or preventing injuries !

Flipping your ladder shoes…


Be sure that when moving your extended ladder that you hold on to the the extender rope. Either when your carrying it or creeping it or even standing it away from a wall extended.

Sometimes your extended section, with the ladder hooks that are on the rung could accidently lift up and off and if your not aware of that, your top section could come crashing down if your not holding the rope !

That’s one reason way you should not keep your hands on the rungs when you stand your ladder up ! Your hand can get smashed between the rungs if the ladder comes off the hooks. Use the rails with your feet on the feet !

Sometimes walking a ladder through trees or even from a roofs edge the hooks can become disengaged, awareness is key !

Once when I had a 32’r fully extended, the hooks weren’t hooked over the rung and the tip of the hooks were just sitting on top of the rung (me not being aware of it). Well I had the ladder standing straight up perfectly balanced , I felt the ladder begin to shake and within a mil-a seconds the top came crashing straight down clear to the bottom from being fully extended.

I held the ladder by the rails as it was happening, through instinct I just open my hands and when the ladder stop at the bottom I grabbed It again. The ladder being perfectly balanced straight up and down kept it from falling !

Now If I had had my hand on the rung it would of been smashed ! One of the hook tips put a hole in the bottom rung !

Another time I was working with a guy as his lead man. I went to the truck to get a tool and as I went back I saw him on a 28’r fully extended, with him at the top.

Well I’m always checking things out as I walk around a job…mistakes on the glass, tools laying around , scratches, LADDER SETS !

Well his ladder hooks were not set over the rung and just setting on the top of the rung. Now with any movement the hooks could of slipped off either way, back over the rung or away from the rung and his ladder would of came crashing down with him on it !

So I stopped and called him down but he copped an attitude and said no I’m cleaning the window. So I called him down again and so he came down in a big old tizzy wizzy saying what, what…So I pointed out the ladder hooks and how they weren’t hooked and he goes oh ! AWARENESS IS KEY !

Another long one yawl but if it helps make yawl AWARE then yawl can prevent serious accidents on a ladder !

Remember when moving your extended ladder keep the extender rope in your hand while doing it !


This vids funny . but what i REALLY LIKE is that metal bit at the top of his big ladder,it seems like would sit on the window sill,defo stop any chance of slip

YouTube - Norman Wisdom | The Wrong Window (Up In The World)

You can not beat the ladder stopper and a stabilizer.
But really this is where WFP comes in.
I have not found a home or business where you can’t
WFP the outside.
You might have do it 4.00 am in the morning but anything beats a ladder.
Phillip Alexander
I mean use both the stabilizer and stopper


The English-Men’s humor is very funny…This video shows humor about our industry but from the funny side. We can see that things can happen that aren’t funny and can cost cleaners their lives !

Thanks English-Jon for the lighter side !

Your Friend The Dange-ster

Why not, Phil?

I believe what Phil-ski is saying is is pretty close to how I see things but in my opinion not every window can be cleaned with a WFP system, but WFPing is better than ladder work if the windows will accept it !

There are lots of reasons to explain the whys or why nots about the WFP system !

But if you can do it that way and provide quality work that is great ! Still there are safety issues with WFP systems…electical lines, and mainly from my perspective balance ! There is danger if you drop a pole or allow it to fall after leaning it against a building and it drops. Working around people and then it falling on them can cause a serious injury.

To say things like that won’t happen is just limiting ones safety thinking, because they can. Just ask those fella’s that got charged up by hitting them power lines !

Still if you can WFP a job it will get you off the ladder which can keep you from falling off the ladder ! Remember though there are safety issues with WFP systems !

But in my opinion there will always be times that you’ll need to ladder a job… If you leave a job or don’t do a job because you can’t WFP it, well that means that your only limiting yourself, to not do work that can generate revenue !

To say that window cleaner’s don’t need to use ladders is like saying that a window cleaner don’t need to use water to clean windows ( NOT MEANT AS A SLAM TO YOUR STATEMENT PHIL-SKI). Water is needed and so are ladders .

[B]Cleaners need to use ladders so cleaners need to know ladder safety ![/B] A lot of cleaners do gutter cleaning also, so again they need to understand what works and what does not !

Now as window cleaner we do take calculated risks and risks are just that," RISKS" and part of being a window cleaner, and knowing ones limitation is part of being
[B]" SONS OF ETTORE " ! [/B]

BUT foolish risk are like standing on the top rung of a ladder to clean a window, going up your ladder that’s on an incline fully extended and the ladder is only standing on one foot because your ladder[B] DOES NOT[/B] have leveler installed.

So lets stay safe and please don’t take foolish risks !

Dave the Dangerous