Ladder-related injuries result in thousands of trips to the ER each year. Avoid becoming a statistic by taking extra care with ladders.
Whether you're cleaning out gutters, painting a ceiling or hanging holiday lights, these pointers can help you stay safer.
- Choose the right ladder for the job. "Purchase a ladder that gives you the height you need," says Janet Rapp, executive director of the American Ladder Institute . Extension ladders must extend three feet above the work surface. For safety, users must not step on the top two steps of a step ladder. Also check the ladder's Duty Rating, which must be greater than your weight and that of your supplies. Additionally, if you'll be working near electrical wires, steer clear of aluminum ladders, which conduct electricity. Choose wood or fiberglass instead.
- Perform regular inspections. Look for cracks, dents and loose, damaged or missing hardware. Another red flag: Your ladder leans to one side when you set it up. Refer to this ladder inspection checklist for a step-by-step list of how to perform an inspection.
- Maintain your balance. Overreaching is a common user error, according to Rapp. "The middle of your belt buckle should be centered between the side rails," she says. "Don't reach too far to the left or right, because it could cause an imbalance." Rapp urges people to adhere to the Three Points of Contact climbing rule: Always keep two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder. And, if your work area is just out of reach, always climb down and reposition the ladder to a closer point.
Visit LadderSafety.org to view a multimedia training program about ladder safety, choosing the right ladder and ladder care.