Whether you’re spring cleaning your gutters or just getting a glass down from the top shelf in the kitchen, ladders are constantly used around the home and unfortunately, more often than realized, they’re being used incorrectly. Don’t let a simple task put you out of commission with a serious injury! The not-for-profit American Ladder Institute has declared March National Ladder Safety Month to promote awareness of ladder safety issues, prevent accidents and save lives. So we’re going to review five ways to prevent common injuries resulting from ladder misuse!
#1. Make sure you’re using the right ladder! Believe me there’s no shortage of options - step stools, step ladders, a double front trestle, articulated, platform and extension ladders - just to name a few. If you’re using a step ladder, make sure you don’t step on the top step or top cap. For extension ladders - don’t climb on the top three rungs. And if you’ll be climbing onto an elevated surface, you want to make sure your extension ladder is long enough to provide at least three feet of ladder extension above the upper contact point.
#. The foundation. You want to make sure your ladder is safely secured on firm, level ground. Use a ladder with non-slip feet and set it up on a firm, level, non-slippery surface. If you are using a stepladder, ensure that all four feet are supported so that the ladder does not rock. You can also choose job-specific accessories such as outriggers for extra security.
#3. Always maintain three points of contact when climbing. That’s two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand. You should make sure to always face the ladder when climbing and working. Three points of support should also be maintained while working by bracing into the ladder or grasping with a hand.
#4. Don’t overreach. When you’re working from a ladder, keep your center of gravity and body between the side rails. If you can’t easily reach what you need, climb down and move the ladder for easier and safe access to the project area.
#5. Be attentive to foot placement on each step! It may seem simple but make sure you exercise caution and look for every step. Slips, trips and missteps during climbing can lead to a fall.
So there you go - 5 ways to prevent common ladder injuries! For more resources on ladder safety, visit laddersafetymonth.com.