If you’re contemplating climbing a ladder to hang Christmas decorations or clean your gutters, it’s essential that you know what to do to stay safe. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), every year thousands of people are injured, and hundreds are killed by ladder-related accidents in the United States. With the proper knowledge and training on ladder usage, the vast majority of accidents can be prevented. Here’s what you should know.
Choose the right type of ladder
When selecting a ladder for a job, check the weight capacity. Every ladder is designed to support a maximum weight limit, and if the climber exceeds that limit, the ladder could break, causing a fall or injury. It’s also important to consider the height of the ladder. If the ladder is too short for a specific task, a climber may need to extend their reach or stand on the top rung to do the job. Working beyond a safe reach is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injuries.
Thoroughly inspect a ladder for wear and damage
Another factor contributing to ladder accidents is the use of damaged, worn, or old ladders. Before climbing up on a ladder, check each rung for sturdiness and overall condition. If any damage is found, do not use the ladder until it has been safely repaired, or replaced. Make sure the feet of the ladder have the proper grip to prevent slipping. Damaged ladders are extremely dangerous as they can break while being used and cause injuries.
Use the ladder correctly
Before attempting to climb a ladder, review the manufacturer’s directions carefully. To ensure stability, always maintain three points of contact (two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot), while using a ladder. Keep your body in the middle of the steps and always face the ladder while climbing. When positioning a ladder, be sure it is on firm, level ground. It’s always a good idea to have a helper support the base when using a ladder.
Over the last decade, ladder-related injuries have increased significantly. More than 90,000 people receive emergency room treatment for ladder-related injuries every year, according to the CPSC. By understanding the causes, future ladder accidents can be prevented. Be safe when you climb!