Preventing Ladder Injuries

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, approximately 165,000 Americans require medical treatment for ladder-related injuries each year. The majority of these accidents were preventable.

Here are five reasons most ladder-related accidents happen.

Selecting the wrong type of ladder

Selecting the right tool makes all the difference when it comes to safety – especially when selecting a ladder. Each ladder supports a maximum weight limit. If the user exceeds that limit, the ladder could break, causing a fall and possible injury. You should also choose a ladder that’s the correct height for the job.

Carrying items up a ladder

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50 percent of all ladder-related accidents are due to individuals carrying items as they climb. You should carry small items such as hammers, pliers, measuring tapes, nails and paint brushes in pouches, holsters or belt loops. Use a hand line to pull or lower large or heavy objects to a different level.

Using worn or damaged ladders

Ladders have a shelf life. Constant use causes wear and tear. Damaged ladders can easily break, causing serious injury. Thoroughly inspect each ladder before using it. If you find damage, either repair the ladder to meet the manufacturer’s specifications, or replace it.

Using ladders incorrectly

Human error is the leading cause of ladder accidents. Don’t use a ladder for anything other than the manufacturer’s intended use. Don’t lengthen or alter a ladder in any way. While on the ladder, always maintain three points of contact to ensure stability. Never reach for something while on a ladder. It’s much safer to get off the ladder, move it and then climb back up.

Incorrect placement of ladders

Make sure the ground is level and firm before positioning the ladder. Never place it in front of a door that isn’t locked, blocked or guarded. Have a co-worker support the base of the ladder while you’re on it. Make sure the ladder has appropriate foot covers to prevent sliding. You can also stake the ladder feet if you are using it outside, and no one is available to support it.