Avoid Ladder Accidents: How to Safely Choose, Use, Move and Maintain Your Ladders

We rarely think about ladder accidents. But falling from a ladder can cause serious injuries, so knowing how to use them safely is important.


| February 19, 2010



Ladder safety

To carry a ladder safely, carry it at the midpoint over one shoulder, with the front end slightly elevated.


PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO/LISA F. YOUNG

If you want to pick fruit, trim branches, paint a ceiling, build a pergola, hang a birdhouse, put up an awning or do any of the thousand tasks that require you to be taller than you really are, a ladder is the best tool — much safer than standing on a chair or a barrel. The trick is to avoid ladder accidents. People have used ladders for years, and they’ve been falling off them for just as long.

According to the U.S. Product Safety Commission, more than 160,000 Americans go to the emergency room annually as a result of ladder accidents. And there’s no way to know how many less serious injuries occur and go unreported, but a good guess would be exponentially more. Ladder safety is a big issue, and falling from a ladder isn’t the only concern. If you accidentally touch a power line with a metal ladder (or any wet ladder) and you risk electrocution.

Setting Up a Ladder

All ladders should have four solid points of contact with the ground (with the exception of three-legged fruit picking ladders, which should only be used for picking fruit). Make sure the feet of the ladder are resting on a smooth, level and dry surface. If the ladder has safety locks on the feet, be sure they’re engaged. If possible, drive stakes into the ground adjacent to the feet and tie the ladder securely to them. An extension ladder used for access to a roof should extend about 3 feet past the eaves, so you have something to hold onto while going up or down.

Fully extend and lock both side braces on stepladders. Stand first on the bottom tread, grasp the side rails and shake the ladder to make sure it doesn’t wobble. If it does, reposition it until it’s properly situated.

Other Basic Safety Rules

Each time before using a ladder, inspect it for cracks or structural damage — especially after long storage or if it has ever fallen over. Take your time; those extra 60 seconds might save your life. If you find any problems, repair or replace the ladder.

Always look up before you raise a ladder, to check for power lines or obstacles. Climb facing the treads and in the center of the ladder — between the side rails. Use both hands to climb — in many situations, the climber was carrying materials in one hand before falling.

andrewfulkne
2/12/2014 2:29:27 AM

People use the ladder in the home for variety type of use and sometimes they face the accident. In the ladder accident it creates problem in the leg or hand so at the time of work with the ladder always check the ladder condition and how to use the ladder then you can avoid the http://www.virginiasinjurylawyers.com/.


natalie_8
2/26/2010 6:23:11 PM

I'm using one of those hand-me-down ladders. After having my full price ladder stolen from the back shed several years ago it was annoying to think of buying another. It's wobbly and I abuse its clearly frail aluminum frame with hopes that it will hang in there another day. Safety check noted! Headed to the hardware store before my next attempt to seek higher ground.


geoff taylor
2/24/2010 9:56:05 PM

Call me silly, but I'd like to have the National Guard, Mighty Mouse, and the Lone Ranger nearby whenever I climb any ladder. This is not due to acrophobia, which I found out the day I jumped out of an airplane. It is due to my fear of having this epitaph on my gravestone: Here lies a dummy Of infinite optimism, He climbed the wrong ladder And his spine? The fall popped hiz'n; But he had his cell phone, And gave thanks to the stars; And dialed for an ambulance, But no XXXXXX bars. AND ON THE BACK SIDE: As night fell he lay there In the rain and the fog; Wishing he'd memorized Geoff Taylor's blog. Wait a minute -- here lies he! Draw rein, draw breath! Had he followed his own advice, And not made a single exception ever, He would not have met with his untimely demise And his shade advises you to do likewise ...


gale green
2/24/2010 12:01:12 PM

In the section on the first page where you talk about Other Safety Issues--there is this sentence: "Don’t climb an extension ladder when you’re alone. In case of mishap, you’ll need someone else to call an ambulance." I live alone, do a lot of projects including ones which include ladders. I know there are associated risks--however, even when I do something as mundane as going out to feed the chickens, I make sure my cell phone is in my pocket. And especially when doing more dangerous stuff, like climbing ladders, I make sure to have my cell phone with me. At least I have it near at hand should an accident occur--of course, I'd have to be conscious to use it! But, it's bettern' nuttin' !!






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