Some Fall home maintenance may require the use of a ladder. Falls and other injuries associated with ladder use are some of the most common, and potentially serious, home accidents. A safety-wise homeowner will make sure anyone working around the house uses the proper type ladder for painting, cleaning gutters, trimming tree branches, or any other use.
Here are several ladder use issues to help keep you safe:
- Overreaching: Never attempt to move a ladder while standing on it, as it's very easy to upset the ladder's stability and lose one's balance.
- Walking the ladder: "Walking the ladder" refers to a user's attempt to move the base of a ladder, and hopefully the upper portion they are standing on, by rocking the legs. But when doing this, it's too easy to move the ladder into an unsafe position or lose ones balance.
- Wrong type ladder: Only use ladders designed and suitable for the purpose at hand. Pay attention to the ladder's load ratings; the load rating defines the acceptable load-bearing weight of a ladder and also indicates its durability. Very light-weight or flimsy ladders will not hold up with repeated use.
- Insecure footing: Always double check that a ladder has a secure footing on a firm, dry, and slip-resistant surface. Setting up on a sloping driveway or wet surface only invites slippage. Setting up on soft ground or mulch can result in sudden settlement of the ladder, causing the upper portion to drop below the upper support point and fall. Using a rope to firmly secure the ladder to a solid, fixed support point is a good practice, particularly when working at high heights.
- Electrical dangers: Leave work around exposed or overhead electric lines to professionals. If you must work anywhere near the electric service line to the house or other electrical lines, use nonconductive wood or fiberglass ladders.
- Adjustable ladders: If using an extension ladder, stepladder, or multi-use articulating or telescoping ladder, make sure all latches are securely locked in place before stepping on the ladder. Use extreme care when closing a ladder to avoid injury to fingers or hands.
- Keep your hands free: Do not attempt to climb a ladder when holding tools and other objects - keep your hand on the rails. Instead, use tool belts and clips to carry what you need.
- Manufacturer Instructions Pay attention to the manufacturer instructions, which are usually visible on the side rails of most relatively new ladders that meet manufacturing and safety standards.
- Finally, always follow the ladder manufacturer's warnings and safety advice. When in doubt or uncomfortable about setting up or working on a ladder, contact the appropriate serviceperson or contractor to complete the required task.
Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Keep them in mind when hanging holiday decorations, too. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue.