Are there any good fall protection options when working on an extension ladder? I need to fix some siding near the top of my 2 story house. I have thought about using something like a roof anchor, only screwed/nailed horizontally to a stud near the top of the side of the house, and then tie on to it with a safety lanyard/harness. This doesn't seem to be commonly done though. And I don't know if it would be strong enough. Most people seem to climb ladders with no fall protection and hope for the best.
You ask about mitigating injury, but it seems feasible to implement preventative measures, first. The correct way to repair the siding is not with a ladder but with a boom lift or scaffolding. Doing so would avoid breaking 3 rules of ladder safety:
- Maintaining 3 points of contact,
- Not leaning to a side, and
- Standing on platforms instead of rungs, which are designed only for ascending and descending.
These rules are intended to keep you from falling. I admit to breaking all of them, too, but in retrospect, my ladder-related accomplishments don't seem that important.
Assuming you still want to use a ladder, I suggest browsing the US OSHA rules on Personal fall protection systems. Note the 22 kN (5,000 pound) minimum breaking strength for the anchor, tether, and harness. Also note that belt-only harnesses are prohibited.
A complete fall protection kit will cost about $200 and are available for sale at many Websites. The most difficult part to find will be a suitable anchor. The most common anchors are intended for roofing and attach to the peak of the roof with 20-30 nails. Anchors are also available to mount to the top plate of a wall with 4 large bolts. A single eye bolt isn't strong enough to transfer that 22 kN to the frame of the house.
Climbing the ladder hoping for the best is always a bad idea in my opinion. My husband works for a professional company that offer fall protection systems. He always says when you have to climb more than 18 feet, you got to have protection on you. Any string attached is better than no strings!
I'll share some of this suggestions here:
- Always use a climbing harness, which is cheaply available. First, learn to use it in the right way way. Most probably the guy from the store will demonstrate it to you. Before doing your work, hook yourself on any firm pole, pillar or pipe on the roof.
- Don't hang yourself and make too many movements while using a harness. Always be supported on the ladder and consider the harness as something like a backup.
- It would be great if someone is with you to hold the ladder while you're on the work. My husband says it will decrease the fear of falling subconsciously.
- If you have any sort of doubt about doing it yourself, please contact a professional. Don't try to be a hero.