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Common Sense Advice for Safe Ladder Use

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 27-May-2009

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more that 164,000 individuals are treated each year following injuries related to ladder accidents. CPSC provides safety tips to prevent ladder injuries:

  • "Make sure the weight your ladder is supporting does not exceed its maximum load rating (user plus materials). There should only be one person on the ladder at one time.
  • Use a ladder that is the proper length for the job. Proper length is a minimum of 3 feet extending over the roofline or working surface. The three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder should not be stood on.
  • Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at about a 75-degree angle.
  • All metal ladders should have slip-resistant feet.
  • Metal ladders will conduct electricity. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder in the vicinity of power lines or electrical equipment. Do not let a ladder made from any material contact live electric wires.
  • Be sure all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged.
  • The ground under the ladder should be level and firm. Large flat wooden boards braced under the ladder can level a ladder on uneven ground or soft ground. A good practice is to have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.
  • Do not place a ladder in front of a door that is not locked, blocked or guarded.
  • Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to the side while working.
  • Do not use a ladder for any purpose other than that for which it was intended.
  • Do not step on the top step, bucket shelf or attempt to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.
  • Never leave a raised ladder unattended.
  • Follow use instruction labels on ladders."

Following are additional common sense recommendations from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for safe ladder use.  

  • Use the correct ladder type and size;
  • Inspect the ladder for damage before using it;
  • Move the ladder safely;
  • Set up the ladder away from obstacles and on a solid surface;
  • Follow the recommended height for the ladder;
  • Use the ladder safely.
    • "Face the ladder while climbing and stay in the center of the rails. Grip both rails securely while climbing.
    •  Do not lean over the side of the ladder. Your belt buckle should not be further than the side rail.
    • On single or extension ladders, never stand above the third rung from the top and never climb above the point where the ladder touches the wall or vertical support.
    • On stepladders, never stand on the paint shelf, spreaders or back section.
    • Never stand on the top rung of any ladder.
    • Do not overreach. It is safer to move the ladder to a new location when needed. Do not try to "jog" or "walk" the ladder to a new location while standing on it. Climb down and reposition the ladder.
    • Do not overload a ladder. It is meant to be used by only one person at a time.
    • Never use a ladder in high winds.
    • Do not use any ladder if you tire easily, are subject to fainting spells or are using medications or alcohol that make you dizzy or drowsy.
  • What to Do If You Fall From a Ladder
    • Calmly assess the situation and determine if you are hurt.
    • Get up slowly.
    • If you feel that an injury has occurred which prevents standing or walking, do not panic. Call for assistance. If the injury is serious, call 911.
    • If you are not injured, rest for awhile and regain your composure before climbing again.
    • Ladders are useful tools, but they must be used properly to avoid turning a household chore into a trip to the emergency room or a physician’s office."

 

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