As summer draws nearer, more and more people will be working on improvement projects around their homes. Many of these projects will require the use of a ladder, so it is important to recognize the safety concerns and use them correctly.
The next time you find yourself using a ladder, keep these ladder safety tips in mind:
- Wear appropriate attire while working on a ladder – baggy clothing can get caught and cause a fall hazard. Shoes should be slip-resistant, dry, and clean.
- Select the correct ladder for the job and educate yourself on proper usage of that ladder.
- Inspect the ladder before starting a project – if the ladder looks damaged or worn, do not use it.
- Ensure that weather conditions are safe before using a ladder outdoors. Wind, rain, and other elements can make using a ladder very dangerous.
- The base of the ladder should be placed on a secure, solid surface. It is also helpful to have another person support the base while the ladder is in use.
- The top of the ladder should have firm support. Do not lean ladders against unstable surfaces, such as window panes.
- The third rung from the top of the ladder is the highest you should stand.
- Maintain a minimum of three points of contact with the ladder at all times – one hand and two feet or one foot and two hands.
- Face the ladder while climbing and grip the rungs instead of the side rails.
- Wear a tool belt instead of carrying tools in your hand while climbing a ladder.
It may seem like falls are uncommon, but statistics rank falls as a leading cause of accidental injury mortality in the United States. Of the total number of falls reported in the last decade, 43% occurred while using a ladder. Each year, approximately 90,000 emergency room visits are a result of ladder-related injuries. Falls from tall heights, like ladders, are typically more severe than falls from the same level. Ladder falls can leave victims with serious injuries, so it is important to be overly cautious while working on a ladder at home or work.
Fall injuries are one of the key focuses of National Safety Month, so we hope that by educating the public on ladder safety there will be fewer falls in the future.