Harvest Leader Manual

  Ladder safety


Most of our orchard ladders are stored and transported on a trailer, although a few are often kept separate for backyard harvests. The Harvest Director will normally arrange for the ladders to be delivered when they are needed. Pickers who take the online ladder safety test have their score saved in the database and it is included in harvest roster paperwork packets. Those that have scored 85 or higher can check out a ladder at harvests ahead of those that have not passed the online test. Those who have not passed the test may check out a ladder after listening to a ladder safety demonstration at the harvest. At some harvests where there is risk of ladders not being returned (usually if there are large distances involved and pickers might leave them for us to retrieve) we hand out ladders in exchange for a drivers license.

Ladder Safety Information

Orchard ladders can be a big help for picking fruit quickly and safely if they are used correctly. We hope the ladders we have for volunteers will last for many years of safe use. This primer has the information that will help everyone pick safely and take good care of the ladders. While it is often helpful for two people to work together setting up and moving a ladder, it can be done by one person. Most of this primer is for a single person using a ladder.

The ladders

Our ladders are eight and twelve-foot, aluminum, tripod orchard ladders. Orchard ladders have three supports on the ground: the two feet at the rungs plus the pole. Three supports are more stable than four. The pole is connected to the rungs by a hinge at the top and can be moved toward or away from the rungs. It does not move from side to side. Forcing the pole to one side or the other can bend the pole or damage the hinge.

Moving the ladder

For longer distances it is easiest to carry the ladder in a horizontal position with the top end toward the front, whether by one or two people. If just one person, lift the ladder so that it is balanced. Because the ladder is heavier at the bottom and lighter at the top, the balance point will be a little closer to the bottom.

There is a notch attached to the rungs that the pole fits into when it is closed (see photo at left). When carrying the ladder it is very important that the pole be held securely in the notch. One of the easiest ways to damage the hinge is to let the pole suddenly slip out of the notch. When that happens, all of the weight of the ladder can twist the hinge sideways. To prevent this from happening, carry the ladder with the pole next to your body. You can grasp the pole from the outside and this will prevent damage to the hinge.

The ladders are longer than the ones that most people are used to. Be careful of other people and trees near you when you turn.

Setting up the ladder


Raise the ladder to a vertical position. Swing the pole out away from the rungs. Always use the pole to support the ladder; never lean it against a tree.

The pole should be halfway between the two feet and not pushed to one side.

The pole must be set at the right distance from the rungs. If it is too close to the rungs, the steps will be very steep and it is easy to fall over backwards when you are on the ladder. If the pole is too far away from the rungs, the ladder is weaker and the pole can skid out.

If you stand at the feet facing the rungs and hold your arms out straight toward the ladder, they will just touch the rungs if the pole is set at the right distance.

When the ladder is placed, be sure that the pole and rungs are set firmly into the ground so they will not slide. On a hard surface like pavement, you may need another person to hold the pole and brace it with their foot if it is likely to slide.

Turning the ladder

You will need to move and turn the ladder often. This is much safer than reaching too far. To turn the ladder, stand under it and lift the feet and the pole completely off the ground. Never try to turn the ladder by lifting only the pole and pushing it to one side. This can bend the pole or damage the hinge.

You can also turn the ladder by closing the pole into its notch and then lifting and turning. Always be sure that the pole does not swing free.

Climbing the ladder

There should never be more than one person on a ladder. It is too much weight for the ladder and the person below may have something dropped on them.

Set your feet carefully on the rungs. Although they have small holes in them for better traction, they can still be slippery if they are wet or muddy. Always keep two feet on the rungs. It is risky to lean out and stand on one foot.

The third rung from the top is the highest that it is safe to stand on. When you are on this rung, the top of the ladder will be between your knees and your waist.

You can reach to the side to pick fruit, but leaning too far risks falling. The general rule is to keep your belt buckle no farther out than the side rails of the ladder. The picker in the last photo is leaning out too far. Also, the higher you are on the ladder, the less you can lean out safely. In any situation where you are unsure about how far is safe to lean, play it safe.

Picking fruit from a ladder is safest if you do not have to use one hand to hold a bucket. Possibilities are: using a bucket that straps on, attaching a bucket to a rung of the ladder, or dropping or handing fruit to another person.

General points

The ladders are held together with rivets and bolts. If you notice any looseness in the rungs or hinge, or any other problem with a ladder such as sharp edges, tell the harvest leader right away. Always return ladders to the ladder trailer. For some harvests you will be asked to leave your driver's license or other identification when checking out a ladder.



Most of our orchard ladders are stored and transported on a trailer, although a few are often kept separate for backyard harvests. The Harvest Director will normally arrange for the ladders to be delivered when they are needed. Pickers who take the online ladder safety test have their score saved in the database and it is included in harvest roster paperwork packets. Those that have scored or higher can check out a ladder at harvests ahead of those that have not passed the online test. Those who have not passed the test may check out a ladder after listening to a ladder safety demonstration at the harvest. At some harvests where there is risk of ladders not being returned (usually if there are large distances involved and pickers might leave them for us to retrieve) we hand out ladders in exchange for a .

Ladder Safety Information

Orchard ladders can be a big help for picking fruit quickly and safely if they are used correctly. We hope the ladders we have for volunteers will last for many years of safe use. This primer has the information that will help everyone pick safely and take good care of the ladders. While it is often helpful for two people to work together setting up and moving a ladder, it can be done by one person. Most of this primer is for a single person using a ladder.

The ladders

Our ladders are eight and twelve-foot, aluminum, orchard ladders. Orchard ladders have three supports on the ground: the two feet at the rungs plus the pole. Three supports are more stable than four. The pole is connected to the rungs by a hinge at the top and can be moved toward or away from the rungs. It from side to side. Forcing the pole to one side or the other can bend the pole or damage the hinge.

Moving the ladder

For longer distances it is easiest to carry the ladder in a horizontal position with the top end toward the front, whether by one or two people. If just one person, lift the ladder so that it is balanced. Because the ladder is heavier at the bottom and lighter at the top, the balance point will be a little closer to the bottom.

There is a notch attached to the rungs that the pole fits into when it is closed (see photo at left). When carrying the ladder it is very important that the pole be held securely in the notch. One of the easiest ways to damage the hinge is to . When that happens, all of the weight of the ladder can twist the hinge sideways. To prevent this from happening, carry the ladder with the pole next to your body. You can grasp the pole from the outside and this will prevent damage to the hinge.

The ladders are longer than the ones that most people are used to. Be careful of other people and trees near you when you turn.

Setting up the ladder


Raise the ladder to a vertical position. Swing the pole out away from the rungs. Always use the pole to support the ladder; lean it against a tree.

The pole should be halfway between the two feet and not pushed to one side.

The pole must be set at the right distance from the rungs. If it is too close to the rungs, the steps will be very steep and it is easy to fall over backwards when you are on the ladder. If the pole is too far away from the rungs, the ladder is weaker and the pole can skid out.

If you stand at the feet facing the rungs and hold your arms out straight toward the ladder, they will the rungs if the pole is set at the right distance.

When the ladder is placed, be sure that the pole and rungs are set firmly into the ground so they will not slide. On a hard surface like pavement, you may need another person to hold the pole and brace it with their foot if it is likely to slide.

Turning the ladder

You will need to move and turn the ladder often. This is much safer than reaching too far. To turn the ladder, stand under it and lift completely off the ground. Never try to turn the ladder by lifting only the pole and pushing it to one side. This can bend the pole or damage the hinge.

You can also turn the ladder by closing the pole into its notch and then lifting and turning. Always be sure that the pole does not swing free.

Climbing the ladder

There should never be more than on a ladder. It is too much weight for the ladder and the person below may have something dropped on them.

Set your feet carefully on the rungs. Although they have small holes in them for better traction, they can still be slippery if they are wet or muddy. Always keep feet on the rungs. It is risky to lean out and stand on one foot.

The third rung from the top is the highest that it is safe to stand on. When you are on this rung, the top of the ladder will be between your knees and your waist.

You can reach to the side to pick fruit, but leaning too far risks falling. The general rule is to keep your no farther out than the side rails of the ladder. The picker in the last photo is leaning out too far. Also, the higher you are on the ladder, the less you can lean out safely. In any situation where you are unsure about how far is safe to lean, play it safe.

Picking fruit from a ladder is safest if you do not have to use one hand to hold a bucket. Possibilities are: using a bucket that straps on, attaching a bucket to a rung of the ladder, or dropping or handing fruit to another person.

General points

The ladders are held together with rivets and bolts. If you notice any looseness in the rungs or hinge, or any other problem with a ladder such as sharp edges, tell the harvest leader right away. Always return ladders to the ladder trailer. For some harvests you will be asked to leave your driver's license or other identification when checking out a ladder.



The online Ladder Safety Test is at:
http://www.salemharvest.org/Pickers/LadderTestLink.php


Pickers must listen to a ladder safety demonstration:
Unless the trainer knows that they have seen the demonstration before.
If they have not passed the online ladder safety test.
Before those who have passed the test all get one.