Remember The 4-to-1 Rule For Ladder Safety To Avoid Home Improvement Injuries

Remember The 4-to-1 Rule For Ladder Safety To Avoid Home Improvement Injuries

If you don’t often have many occasions to get up on a ladder, you may not know that it can be dangerous if your ladder isn’t angled properly for the distance you need to climb. When placing your ladder, remember the four-to-one rule: for every four feet (1.2 metres) of height you have to climb, move the base one foot (30 centimetres) away from the wall.

Image: Ruthanne Reid.

This tip comes from This Old House, which has a number of other ladder safety tips. This one stood out, though: It’s easy to remember and perfect for home improvement novices who only get on a ladder once a year to clean the gutters or hang lights for the holidays. If you take our advice and get started now on those home improvement projects you may have let languish, stay safe and keep this rule in mind.

Angle It Right — How to Use a Ladder Safely [This Old House]


  • That might be handy if you know what height your trying to reach, i personally find it easier to estimate angles.

    Using (becuase i suck at math)

    I was able to work out the angle is 14degrees at the top, 76degrees at the bottom.

    It looks a little steep though, i usually go 4:1.3-1.5 which gives it a gentler slope. (20.5degrees top and 69.5degrees bottom). Of course if the ladder feet are fixed i always have the angle so that they are flat on the ground.

  • I recently completed a safe working at heights course for work and you can use 3:1 or 4:1. Remember to check the safe working load, which for most domestic ladders (i.e. ladders from Bunnings) is only 100kg. It’s also recommended that you don’t use wooden ladders.

  • Or you know, instead of attempting to use 1.2/0.3 if you’re using metric, you could just use 4:1 because units don’t matter in a ratio like this.

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