You may never have thought about ladder safety, but it is an important thing for anyone stepping up to do a project.
The American Ladder Institute reports that each year, more than 300 deaths and 130,000 injuries will result from ladder usage. As a homeowner, climbing up a ladder is one of the riskiest things you can do.
Part of the problem is that we take little time or care to make sure we’re safe. We think nothing of using old rickety units and we practically make a habit of perching on that step they tell us not to stand on.
here are a few ladder do’s and don’ts:
- Do position extension ladders correctly. For stability, a ladder has to be planted with its feet one-quarter of its extended length away from the house. This is not as tricky to calculate as it sounds: for example, if it’s a 12-foot ladder, that means it has to be positioned 3 feet from the house.
- Don’t carry an extension ladder upright as you move it. This is a maneuver best saved for the clowns at the circus. You could easily lose control of it in this position, smashing windows and gutters along the way, and knocking into power lines. Instead, lower it and carry it parallel to the ground.
- Do make sure the ladder is positioned on a level surface. Don’t try to use rocks or bricks to prop up one side of it.
- Don’t ever work on ladders alone. A helper can keep you from making stupid mistakes.
If there’s one guiding principle with respect to ladders, it’s this: if you feel squeamish, don’t go up. Period.
Confidence working on a ladder comes from knowledge of the proper safety procedures and experience exercising that knowledge properly.