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.

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    The easiest option may be to rent an articulated lift for a day. Lots safer than a ladder although you may spend $150 to $200 for the day.
    – ArchonOSX
    Jul 25, 2017 at 16:20
  • If you feel that you need a harness two stories up on a ladder, I don't think you belong on a ladder. Also, you've got to fix just a few pieces of siding? I'd think $200 would go a long way for contracting that out.
    – Mazura
    Jul 30, 2017 at 18:50
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    @Mazura, yes I don't belong 2 stories up on a ladder without adequate protection, hence the post.The siding is a recurring issue, I will have to fix other pieces in the future most probably. So I'd like to be able to do it as economically as possible yet still be safe. Jul 31, 2017 at 19:46
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    @Mazura: Confidence does not guarantee safety. I'd argue that most people climb ladders with no fall protection because there currently doesn't seem to be an easy way to achieve fall protection. It's surprising how much you can be injured by a fall from a relatively low height. Note that: "OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations." Aug 5, 2017 at 2:44
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    It is not always practical to assume we can always get the maximum protection money can buy. Getting a lift/boom is prohibitively expensive for some of us. I am trying to figure out how to improve the protection of painters 20 feet up. These guys feel reasonably to quite comfortable on ladders that high. But why not figure out a way to have "backup" to their comfort/confidence - and not requiring $1200 for a week of a skyjack/lift. May 10, 2022 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


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.

  • +1, 5000 lb minimum. I hope it goes without saying that whatever it's attached too also has to not break before 5k lb of force, otherwise that requirement is meaningless. Also note, PFPS are to be used "under the supervision of a qualified person". +1, platforms. Siding is done with two extension ladders, two ladder jacks, and one plank (or the equivalent in scaffolding). OP is asking the wrong question; how to do siding, or best practices for working on an ext ladder (+1). Not, this thing that nobody does but I want to because it would make me FEEL safe.
    – Mazura
    Aug 3, 2017 at 20:51

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. If you have any sort of doubt about doing it yourself, please contact a professional. Don't try to be a hero.

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