Each year, there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. that are caused by falls from ladders. The problem? Most people don’t treat ladders with the appropriate amount of respect. Just like a chainsaw or a nail gun, a ladder has the potential to cause serious injury. Accidents can occur during even the most common, mundane tasks -cleaning gutters, putting up Christmas lights, or painting the house can turn dangerous in an instant. Below are some of the most common mistakes people make on ladders:
Using the ladder improperly
- Your ladder should always be set on an even surface. Setting your ladder on gravel or loose ground could cause it to tip, and you to fall.
- Make sure the spreaders (the little bars between the legs of a stepladder) are locked. When not locked, the ladder can fold in on itself and collapse.
- Set the ladder at the correct angle. An extension ladder should be set so it is sitting at a 75-degree angle from the ground.
Not choosing the correct ladder for the job
It might be easier to just buy one ladder and use it for all your tasks, but it’s also incredibly dangerous. Not all ladders are intended for all uses – for instance, a step ladder shouldn’t be leaned against a wall and an aluminum ladder shouldn’t be used for electrical work.
Not inspecting the ladder before each use.
Using a defective or broken ladder can lead to grave injury. Wooden ladders are especially prone to rot and decay, but all ladders can become damaged. Before use, check for cracks in rungs, loose bolts and hinges, and general wear and tear. In addition, check for cleanliness, as grease, mud, or other debris could cause you to slip and fall.
Not being careful
- Maintain three points of contact on your ladder at all times. This could mean both feet and one hand, or both hands and one foot.
- Don’t lean too far away from the ladder. If an object is out of your reach, climb down and pick it up, then climb back up.
- Always face the correct direction. You should never turn around backwards on the ladder. Not only are you facing the wrong way, but it makes it nearly impossible to maintain your three points of contact.
- Lift and carry your ladder in the appropriate way. If you need to, ask a friend or coworker to help. Many ladders are very heavy, and trying to carry them alone can result in a fall or a back injury.
If you avoid these mistakes and use caution, you will greatly minimize your risk of fall or injury when using a ladder.