When it comes to ladder safety, the best tip: Don’t fall.
That Really Sums It Up, Don’t You Think?
Once you’ve fallen off a ladder, or had the ladder toppled over while you’re still on it, the comment ‘don’t fall’, means something.
Just a little reading of a few articles on ladder falls, and it becomes obvious.
The Number One Risk Of Ladder Use, Is Falls
If you’re asking, what other risks are there? Think about leaning an aluminum ladder near a power line. Yes, there are other risks.
Here is the statistic that surprises many.
Falls are a leading cause of death in nearly every age group, in the past decade 43% of the falls were fatal. This according to the Center for Disease Control. (CDC)
The numbers cited by the CDC in their, “There’s nothing ‘easy’ about falling off a ladder” article, are based largely on commercial use. But the ideas are universal.
Some facts on ladder falls.
According to the CDC article, falls from heights over fifteen feet, represent approximately 20% of falls, the fatality rate neared 100%.
More than fifty percent of all non fatal ladder falls came in the six to ten foot range. Of that number, nearly thirty percent of the falls were fatal.
Have you ever fallen off a ladder?
For those of us over sixty, it’s a big deal. Perhaps bigger than what OSHA and other safety groups are purporting in the labor industry.
Ladder falls are so significant, OSHA, The Department of Labor’s, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, directs businesses to have regular training exercises pertaining to ladder safety.
For seniors, the risks are even higher.
Have you ever fallen off a ladder?
CDC’s article title, “There’s nothing ‘easy’ about falling off a ladder,” is making a point.
The point for seniors changes a little.
Once you’ve fallen off a ladder, the old saying; it’s as easy as falling off a ladder, has a lot of merit.
I know of a recent accident indoors where the fall was only a couple of feet.
It wasn’t the fall so much as the landing. But isn’t that always the case? Three cracked ribs and a punctured lung.
Yes, falling off a ladder is easy, and it’s dangerous.
I talked to a man some months ago who had a portion of his skull missing. Not a pretty site. He had only fallen a few feet, but his head hit a piece of steel.
Falling off ladders is serious business. As I read the stats and safety tips, I realized that all the articles had the same tips. I guess they are important.
Many of the concepts apply to commercial sites. (Like closing off the road) For those reading this, I gleaned these important points.
From the American Ladder Institute.
Ladders are tools.
Many of the basic safety rules that apply to most tools also apply to the safe use of a ladder:
- If you feel tired or dizzy, or are prone to losing your balance, stay off the ladder.
- Do not use ladders in high winds or storms.
- Wear clean slip-resistant shoes. Shoes with leather soles are not appropriate for ladder use since they are not considered sufficiently slip resistant.
- Ladders with loose or missing parts must be rejected. Rickety ladders that sway or lean to the side must be rejected.
- The ladder you select must be the right size for the job.
- When the ladder is set-up for use, it must be placed on firm level ground and without any type of slippery condition present at either the base or top support points.
More Tips For Seniors
I have an aluminum extension ladder that extends to around twelve feet. It’s lightweight so I am able to move it around without assistance. I’m not so sure I could do the same with a fiberglass ladder.
As we talked about earlier, electrical shock is a serious risk with aluminum ladders. It is vital you stay a safe distance from any power lines.
In case you didn’t know, electricity can jump. If all the conditions are right, you may not have to touch the wire to get a shock.
What are those conditions?
Leaning an aluminum ladder against a damp tree with the ladder resting on damp ground.
Think about attempting to cut a broken tree limb just after a storm. Not something you should be doing.
We have a five foot step ladder. It’s great for work inside. Replacing light bulbs, cleaning ceiling fans and tasks that need me to go up three or four feet.
We also have a step stool that has three treads. It’s perfect for one or two feet of elevation. Things like access to high shelves.
Some reading this still think it’s okay to use a chair to reach the lower shelves. Really? It’s time to stop.
Common sense is the term we need to associate with ladders. Unfortunately, it is often in short supply.
Some extra tips.
When moving the ladder from the garage, it is wise to get the car out of the way. Ladders have a way of scratching paint.
Have someone hold the ladder as you climb. Even if they do a poor job, they’ll be there to call for help when you fall.
You might think they can catch you, but that goes back to what we were saying about common sense.
If you are attempting to climb up on the roof, pause and think it through. It wasn’t a big deal when you were 30, 40 or even 50. Remember, you have to be able to get back down.
Falling off a roof is worse than falling off a ladder.
If you are using a ladder to paint the house, be careful how far you lean to the side. Again, when we were younger, our balance and agility allowed for actions we struggle with today.
Maybe you should hire someone to paint the house. Here’s and idea. Buy the paint and have your kids do it.
Cutting limbs from trees has it’s own risks. Once a branch falls the wrong way and knocks you off the ladder, it’s too late to consider hiring the neighbor kid.
There is a bit of humor in some of this, but there is nothing funny about falling off a ladder.
It’s easy to do and it hurts. Falling off a ladder is also easy to prevent. Not completely, but a little planning will go a long way to staying safe.
Pay attention to these and other home ladder safety tips. Getting hurt is as easy as falling off a ladder.
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