ClickCease Common Sense Advice for Safe Ladder Use | Injury Law Blog
05/27/09   |   By

Common Sense Advice for Safe Ladder Use | DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

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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.”

We previously published an article containing health and safety tips for gardeners to help you stay safe.

Regan Zambri Long
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