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Ladders and the Holidays

We are fast approaching the end of the year and thus the long awaited holidays. Many of us will go into our garages and closets to dig out those string lights to decorate both the inside and outside of our homes. The one simple tool we all use to do this is the humble ladder.

Ladder safety is one of those easily overlooked topics at the workplace. In my experience, teaching a ladder safety class to a bunch of journeymen electricians and plumbers and to get them engaged in the topic is no easy task. The looks I often get seem to be saying "How many years do you think I've been doing this? Only idiots fall off ladders!"

However, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, every year nearly 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries and approximately 300 of these prove to be fatal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 20,000 of those falls are at the workplace, with approximately 150 fatalities (data from 2015).

As we can see, falls from ladders are certainly not a frequent occurrence at the workplace; as a matter of fact, they often occur outside of the workplace and at home.

Many hospital emergency departments across the country see a significant rise in ladder related injuries the closer we get to the holiday season. In light of this, we'd like to list a couple of easy to remember ladder safety tips:

  1. Always check the condition of the ladder before use and make sure to never exceed the posted weight limit.

  2. Set up the ladder correctly on hard ground/concrete, do not set it on ice, soft earth, or mud, where the ladder may fall away from underneath you.

  3. Wear shoes with proper traction and grip; not your bathroom slippers.

  4. Follow the "three points of contact" rule: Always have two feet or one hand, or two hands and one foot on the ladder at all times, even when using tools.

  5. Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.

  6. Do not decorate alone, have a family member, friend, or neighbor be a spotter and steady the ladder for you.

  7. Remember the "belt buckle rule": do not let your belt buckle exceed either side of the ladder while leaning away from the center of the ladder.

  8. ...and last but not least, never let young children climb the ladder!

As long as you follow the simple steps above, the chance of you falling off a ladder decreases significantly.

We at Safety Nest wish everyone a great holiday season; as always, if you have any safety needs, please reach out to us.


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