Watch Your Step: Ladder Safety

Spring has finally sprung! Before you start to chip away at any home improvement projects that involve climbing up a ladder, consider the inherent dangers. Keep these basic safety precautions in mind so you don’t become a statistic.

Speaking of statistics, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that thousands of people are injured and hundreds are killed every year in ladder-related accidents, with 90,000 people requiring emergency room treatment. Elevated falls account for almost 700 occupational deaths annually, which comprises 15-20% of all work-related deaths. Over the past decade the numbers have steadily increased. (Source)

Experts agree that human error is by far the leading cause of these accidents. OSHA has stated that 100% of all ladder accidents could be prevented if proper attention to equipment and climber training were provided. The most frequent cause of accidents is people attempting to carry objects up the ladder with them. 

Before climbing, keep this in mind:

    1. Inspect your ladder before each use. Ladders have a shelf life and it’s shorter for those used frequently. Check the ladder rungs and the feet.
    2. Check the ladder’s weight capacity.
    3. Never ever stand on the top step or rung to extend your reach.
    4. Check placement:
      • The feet of a ladder must only be placed directly on solid ground; avoid setting one or both feet on top of another surface or object in an attempt to raise or level it.
      • If positioning the ladder on uneven ground is unavoidable, dig out the earth to enable the feet to be level.
      • Never placed a ladder in front of a door that is not blocked off.

Follow these steps for proper use:

    1. Have a helper support the base.
    2. Make sure all spreader bars and latches are fully locked.
    3. When climbing, maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder to ensure stability.
    4. Never, ever attempt to reach for something while on a ladder. Take the extra time to climb down, move the ladder, and climb back up.
    5. Adhere to the “belt buckle rule”: always keep the center of your body between the side rails of the ladder.
    6. Always climb facing the ladder and wear proper footwear – no bare feet or sandals.

Most ladder falls can be avoided entirely when people follow good practices, inspect their ladder before each use, and keep safety in mind. Don’t rush to complete your household project list and remember these important safety steps. Our team of forensic engineers have experience inspecting faulty products for liability. Don’t let yourself become a statistic!