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July Injury Prevention

Ladder safety


When the weather warms, ladders come out of storage for painting, cleaning and home repairs. Ladder-related injuries are once again proving to be plentiful this summer season. Individuals should exercise extreme caution when utilizing these tools, especially since falls in and around the home are the leading cause of in-home injury deaths.

Here are a few tips from the Home Safety Council ladder safety experts on the proper and safe use of ladders.
  • Know your skill level. If you’ve never done an activity (hanging decorations, painting, etc.) on a ladder, check the ladder for the proper size and type for the job and your physique. Ask for instruction on ladder safety from hardware store personnel or a friend/family member who is acquainted with ladders. Ladders are weight-rated, and using the wrong one for your size can be disastrous.
  • Use the right ladder for the job since all ladders are not created equally. Aluminum ladders should never be used around electrical current. Instead, choose wood or fiberglass. And remember, a chair is not a substitute for a ladder.
  • Keep your body centered between the ladder side rails. Reaching is the number one cause of ladder falls. The rule of thumb is using your belt buckle as a guide for reach, if the belt buckle goes beyond the rail from the center position, you’ve reached too far. Descend and move the ladder.
  • Stand no higher on a step ladder than the second level from the top. Never sit, stand or straddle the top cap.
  • Keep the feet of all ladders on solid level ground, use cones to mark ladder use area, and make sure all ladder steps are clean and clear of substances that can cause slipping, such as oil, sand, dirt or water.
  • Use extension ladders away from overhead power lines. Open completely, and check for lock security.
  • For every four feet of distance between the ground and the upper point of contact ( like a wall or roof), move the base of the ladder out one foot.
  • Face all ladders when climbing, and maintain three points of contact when climbing, i.e. two feet and one hand, or both hands and one foot. Wear non-skid rubber sole shoes.
  • And don’t forget: keep your focus on the project at hand. If distracted, come down from the ladder and return only after the distraction has been resolved.  One of the expenses of your home project does not need to be a hospital visit or bill.

Completion of home projects can be rewarding and satisfying.  Just remember to put safety first, and exercise ladder safety and overall prevention to be your safest.  

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