Holiday Ladder Safety Tips

As the holidays approach, we all have a list of things we plan to catch up on round the house, and whether it’s cleaning the gutters, trimming a tree branch, hanging a picture or washing the windows; it’s very likely to need a ladder. Most times we just pull the ladder out of the garage and set it up, without giving a thought to ladder safety, yet statistics show that ladder accidents are the second most common cause of injury and fatalities after road crashes. A reminder of the seven most common risks most of us take on ladders, often without thinking about it, may help you avoid them and stay safe next holiday.

1. The number one cause of ladder accidents is actually choosing the wrong type of ladder in the first place. Different types of ladders are designed for different purposes, whether it’s an extension ladder for cleaning gutters or washing upstairs windows, or astepladder for changing the bulb in a ceiling light fixture. In particular, make sure you use a ladder that is tall enough for the job — large numbers of accidents are caused by using one that is too short.

2. Another very common cause of accidents, often serious, is ignoring electrical risks. Generally speaking aluminium used to be the most popular material for ladder construction. However, if you are working anywhere near electricity, you must never use a ladder made of aluminium or any other metal, as metal conducts electricity. Also, if you are working outside, remember a ladder of any type must not come anywhere near power lines. Of course, when you use a fibreglass ladder from Chief ladders, electrical shocks are a thing of the past!

3. You need to be very careful to position the ladder correctly and ensure it is stable. If indoors, make sure a stepladder is level without having part of it on a rug or mat, and if outdoors, be extremely careful not to place the ladder on bumpy or uneven ground, or on grass that is soft or muddy. If using a step ladder, check that the spreaders between the two sections are completely flat and locked into place. And you must never, ever, place a ladder on top of something else — a table, counter or box, for instance — to extend its reach. That seems obvious, but people actually do.

4. One very risky practice to avoid is climbing the ladder while carrying something. You need to have both hands free to hold on to the sides. If you have to carry tools, you must use a tool belt or hand line, or otherwise you should have someone there to hand the tools to you. 

5. Never stand on the top two rungs of a stepladder, or the top three rungs of afibreglass extension ladder. If your ladder is leaning against a roofline or gutter, it must extend at least 1 metre above it. If you have to get on to a flat roof, this is the minimum amount you need to get safely off the ladder, and back on it again.

6. Beware of overreaching. It’s extremely dangerous to reach either sideways or upwards to get at something, while you are on the ladder — it can make you lose your balance, or topple the ladder. Ensure your belt buckle does not go beyond the side rails or top rung of the ladder, and keep your weight distributed evenly.

7. Last but not least, never, never try to move the ladder while you are actually standing on it, by side-stepping it or “walking” it. You may think this is common sense, but many hospital admissions are caused this way. If your next job is a bit further away, you must get off the ladder and move it while safely standing on the floor or the ground. 

Ladders are such everyday items that taking them for granted can be all too easy. However, you should not forget what devastating injuries can be caused by failure to observe some very simple ladder safety rules. And remember, if you feel at all uncomfortable or nervous about using a ladder, don’t. Get a professional in instead — you will have much greater peace of mind, and so will your family.

Ladder Mishaps – We Thought We Would Entertain You With Some Of The Classic Comedy Ladder Skits – I Am Sure You Have Seen Some Of These Before!

Falling off a ladderLadders are fairly classic comedy props. Of course, this is only true because ladders are just a little too easy for a person to use, and thus a bit too easy to be misused by the average person. There are many ways to injure yourself with a ladder, and some of them are legitimately funny. While there is never anything particularly humorous about getting hurt yourself, almost everyone will agree that hearing the story of someone who manages to get hurt in a ladder-related mishap is worth a chuckle or two. 

Danger tends to start on the ground. Consider what you really have when you have a ladder sitting around in your garage – a huge piece of metal and fibreglass that balances on whatever other trash you have stowed away. At some point, that ladder is going to slip – you just have to hope that you are not underneath it. There is nothing more embarrassing than walking into work and explaining that your “accident” happened when the ladder was still folded up. It could, of course, be worse – a ladder falling down on your car will cause just enough damage for you to wonder why you needed the thing in the first place… the car that is.

There is also the classic ladder blunder of hitting someone with the ladder itself. Ladders are long, hard to handle and made for physical comedy. Walking around with a ladder on your shoulder will certainly make you look strong, but it is also a great way for you to accidentally hit something. Whether you are looking to break a window, knock down a toddler or make sure that your family’s next major photo includes a missing tooth or black eye, toting around a ladder is a great way to cause mishaps. And not sure why but these accidents seem to happen in holiday time when we are all at home doing our DIY

Once you actually have the ladder set up, your journey is not over. In fact, it is just beginning – there is a whole world of pain that can happen once you stop thinking and start using a ladder. The basics are almost too mundane to list – you can tip over the ladder because you lean too far, you can forget to lock a step ladder in place or you can do any one of a dozen other things that the directions tell you not to do. The real pros, though, know that the best injuries from ladders come from other people. If you have ever worked retail, you know the sheer terror that comes from standing on top of a ladder while a little old lady comes barrelling down the aisle with a loaded shopping cart and no patience. There is a delicious feeling that comes from watching the fluorescent lights of a big box store dance in your eyes as you free-fall, all because you were not willing to let a customer get down the aisle before you started stocking.

Less often discussed but still important are those ladder mishaps that happen once you actually get where you are going. It has been a staple of comedy to show a person stranded on a roof because he or she knocked a ladder over, but you can probably do better than that. Instead of merely being stranded, why not purposefully put the ladder away? You also have other great options like tying a dog to a ladder and watching it chase a cat down the road, trusting a small child with a ladder or even deciding to jump down from the roof yourself. If you really turn off your brain, you can probably come up with a dozen more great ways to hurt yourself with a ladder.