Before you take your next ladder out for a spin, make sure you go through this safety checklist. From ensuring the ladder is the right height for the job to making sure it’s placed on a firm, level ground, taking a few precautions can help prevent a fall.
Why fall safety checklists are important
Falls from ladders are a leading cause of injury in the United States. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are approximately 165,000 deaths and injuries each year associated with ladders. Of these, falls account for about 90 percent of the injuries, and half of all ladder-related fatalities.
While ladder safety is always important, it is especially critical during the fall season. Autumn leaves can create slippery conditions, and holiday decorating can lead to dangerous situations if ladders are not used properly. To help prevent ladder-related accidents this fall, the following checklist should be used before ascending any ladder.
Ladder Safety Checklist
Before using any ladder, follow this ladder safety checklist to help prevent accidents:
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings printed on the ladder.
- Before using a ladder, inspect it for damage such as cracks, breaks, or missing parts. If you find any damage, do not use the ladder and contact the manufacturer for replacement or repair.
- When setting up a ladder, make sure that the area is clear of obstructions that could trip you or cause the ladder to fall over. Be sure that the base of the ladder is resting on a firm, level surface.
- Make sure that the spreaders are locked in place and the rungs are not bent, broken, or missing.
- Select the proper type of ladder for the job. For example, if you need to reach something high, choose an extension ladder. If you need to climb up through an opening, such as in a ceiling, choose a stepladder.
- Wear shoes with nonslip soles when using a ladder.
- When climbing a ladder, always face it and grip it with both hands.
- If you need to bring something with you, ask someone else to hand it to you once you’re on the ladder.
- Do not stand on the top two rungs of a stepladder or on the top four rungs of any other type of ladder.
- Keep your body centered between the side rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to one side or the other – this could cause the ladder to tip over.
- When descending a ladder, take your time and be sure of each step before moving down further. Keeping your body centered will help maintain balance and prevent falls.
By following these steps, you can help prevent accidents and injuries when using ladders.
What is a Ladder Fall?
A ladder fall is when someone falls off a ladder while working. This can happen for a number of reasons, including if the ladder is not properly set up, if the person falls asleep or slips while working, or if the person is not wearing the proper safety gear. Ladder falls can be very dangerous, and even fatal. That’s why it’s so important to take precautions to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Causes of Ladder Falls
One of the most common ways people are injured in and around the home is by falling off a ladder. Each year, more than 500,000 people visit hospital emergency rooms for treatment of ladder-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Most often, people fall because they lose their balance or slip on the rung of the ladder. Other times, it’s because the ladder was not properly set up to begin with.
What to Do If You Fall from a Ladder
If you fall from a ladder, it is important to stay calm and assess the situation. If you are injured or unable to move, call for help. In the meantime, follow these tips to stay safe:
- Do not move unless you are absolutely sure it is safe to do so. Any movement could exacerbate your injuries.
- Stay warm if possible. If you have a blanket or coat, cover yourself with it to prevent hypothermia.
- Try to remain calm and keep your breathing regular. This will help lower your heart rate and avoid shock.
- If you are bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.
Ladders are very useful for accessing areas well above a person’s normal reach. However, falling from a ladder can cause severe injuries. Make sure to follow this fall safety checklist when using ladders in the future.
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