According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ladders are the leading cause of occupational injuries due to misuse. This fall and winter, remember these tips to ensure safety when cleaning gutters or hanging Christmas decorations.
• Avoid electrical hazards.Look for power lines overhead before handling a ladder, and never use a metal ladder near power lines.
• Maintain three-point contact.Always keep three points of contact on the ladder while climbing (i.e., two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand). When climbing, face the ladder and place your foot in the middle of the steps.
• Avoid dangerous surfaces.Position the ladder on a dry, level surface. Do not place the ladder on boxes or steps to make it taller, and be sure to avoid wet leaves and grass.
• Move unoccupied ladders. To avoid having objects fall from the ladder, do not move or shift a ladder while equipment is situated on it.
• Avoid high-traffic areas.Place the ladder in an area not being used for other activities, such as children playing or people walking by, to prevent the ladder from being knocked over.
• Double-check locks.Be sure all locks on the ladder are secure before use.
“If you have limited mobility, are prone to falls or have an injury, stay off ladders,” says Jeffrey Alberts, MD, an emergency room physician at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital. “Keep a partner close by to help you, and call 911 immediately in case of any serious injuries.”