Tips: Ladder safety

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has published tips how to stay
safe on a ladder. "Accidents happen, but by knowing how to properly use and
set-up a ladder, you can reduce the chance of falling or being involved in
other ladder-related accidents," said Robert W. Bucholz, M.D., president of the
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "It is important that only one person
be on the ladder at a time and that the weight your ladder is supporting does
not exceed its maximum load capacity."

Staying safe on a ladder can be made easier if you follow these tips:

Inspect the ladder. Check the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs that
might not have been fixed from its last usage. Clean off any mud or other
liquids that might have accumulated on the ladder.

Properly set up the ladder. Every ladder should be placed on a firm, level
surface. Never place a ladder on ground that is uneven and watch for soft,
muddy spots. The same is true for uneven flooring. Remember to always engage
the ladder locks or braces before climbing. If working outside, make sure the
ladder will not hit electrical wires, tree limbs or any other obstructions when
it is extended.

Remember the 1-to-4 rule: the bottom of the ladder should be 1 foot away from
the wall for every 4 feet that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder
touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the feet of the ladder should be 4
feet from the wall. If you are going to climb onto a roof, the ladder should
extend at least 3 feet higher than the roof. And, the upper and lower sections
of an extension ladder should overlap to provide stability.

Do not use a ladder as a seat between tasks. You might want to take a break
from your chores, but never use a stepladder's top or pail shelf as a seat.

Select the right ladder for the job. If you're washing windows inside the home,
choose a step stool or utility ladder -- they're often used when working at low
or medium heights. Extension ladders are ideal for use outdoors to reach high
places like cleaning the gutters on the roof of a house.

Move materials with caution when on the ladder. While cleaning the garage or
closet, be careful when pushing or pulling items from shelves. You could lose
your balance and fall.

Always reposition the ladder closer to the work. Over-reaching or leaning far
to one side when on the ladder could make you lose your balance and fall. Your
bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder!

Wear proper footwear. Make sure your shoelaces are tied and the soles of your
shoes are free of any greasy, oily or wet substances. Do not wear leather-soled
shoes -- they are slippery! Pant legs shouldn't be too wide or too long.

Be careful when climbing; get help if you need it. Be safe, ask someone to hold
the ladder while you climb. Stay in the center of the ladder as you climb, and
always hold the side rails with both hands.

Further Information

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