Monday, March 16, 2015

TOCA Tip: Ladder Safety

Spring is the time when everyone starts thinking about sprucing up the house and yard. Over a half-million ladder-related injuries occur each year. Whether it is washing the windows or cleaning the gutters, one of the first tools that homeowners reach for is a ladder.

Knowing how to properly set up and use a ladder is an important first step in reducing the chance of a fall or other ladder-related accident. Staying safe on a ladder can be made easier if you follow these tips developed by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons for Prevent Injuries America! Soon, you will be on your way to successfully and safely completing your spring fix-up chores.

*Inspect the ladder. Check the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs that you might not have fixed before you put it away for the winter. Clean off any mud or other liquids that might have accumulated on the ladder.

*Properly set up the ladder. Every ladder should be placed on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground that is uneven -- in spring, the ground may be very bumpy because of the freezing and thawing during the winter, or there could be soft, muddy spots. The same is true for uneven flooring. Remember to always engage the ladder locks or braces before you climb. If you're working outside, make sure the ladder will not hit electrical wires, tree limbs or any other obstructions when it is extended.

*Remember the 1-to-4 rule: the bottom of the ladder should be 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the feet of the ladder should be 4 feet from the wall. If you are going to climb onto a roof, the ladder should extend at least 3 feet higher than the roof. And, the upper and lower sections of an extension ladder should overlap to provide stability.

*Do not use a ladder as a seat between tasks. You might want to take a break from your chores, but never use a step ladder's top or pail shelf as a seat.

*Select the right ladder for the job. If you're washing windows inside the home, choose a step stool or utility ladder--they're often used when working at low or medium heights. Extension ladders are ideal for use outdoors to reach high places like cleaning the gutters on the roof of a house.

*Move materials with caution when on the ladder. When you are cleaning out the garage or closet, be careful pushing or pulling anything from shelves while standing on a ladder. You could lose your balance and fall off.

*Always re-position the ladder closer to the work. Over-reaching or leaning far to one side when you're on the ladder could make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder!

*Wear proper footwear. Make sure your shoelaces are tied and the soles of your shoes are free of any greasy, oily or wet substances. Do not wear leather-soled shoes -- they are slippery! Pant legs shouldn't be too wide or too long.

*Be careful when climbing, get help if you need it. Be safe, ask someone to hold the ladder while you climb. Stay in the center of the ladder as you climb, and always hold the side rails with both hands.

Each year, more than 511,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices, clinics and other medical settings because of injuries related to ladder use. Most injuries are cuts, bruises and fractured bones.



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