Expect the Unexpected with Ladders


At  US Fireplace Products we like to pass along tips to chimney sweeps and hearth professionals. A friend of mine decided to check his gutters because of the recent heavy rains we’ve had. He has an office job and his knowledge with ladders is somewhat limited. To make a long story short, he took a tumble off of a step ladder last night and spent three hours in the emergency room. Fortunately he didn’t break his leg but ended up with a puncture wound in his leg and numerous cuts. He’s off work for a few days as he recuperates. Here are some reminder tips for working with ladders.

  • Never put a ladder on soft ground, only on solid stable ground.
  • Just because a ladder boasts a “premium” label doesn’t mean it’s the right ladder. Check the label for classifications and weight restrictions.
  • Never climb too high on a step ladder. Remember that the higher you get, the less there is to hold on to or grab if you start to fall.
  • Always use the correct ladder. A step ladder is not to inspect gutters. Use a properly classed extension ladder.
  • Always watch for power lines and power sources, particularly with aluminum ladders.
  • If it’s windy, watch your ladder for a few minutes before ascending. Make sure nothing could blow into you, like electrical wires, tree branches, etc.
  • If it’s windy, secure your ladder to a solid surface so it doesn’t blow over. Many people have been left perched on the roof at the mercy of the next passerby or homeowner.
  • A ladder is only as secure as what you set it on. Don’t use stepping stones, sticks, yard ornaments, boards, etc., to level or stabilize your ladder.
  • Make sure pets are put up. An excited pet can knock the ladder down, make it hard to get down off the ladder or may even try to climb the ladder.
  • Keep children away from the ladder. They tend to be curious and all kinds of accidents can happen.
  • Never throw equipment or anything down off a ladder.
  • Always make sure your ladder is locked into position. In fact, always double check before using the ladder.
  • Use caution if your feet or the ladder are wet
  • Clean off your shoes or boot before starting up a ladder, particularly if your feet are muddy.
  • Wear appropriate footwear for traction and feet protection in case of a fall – Never wear slippers, flip-flops, crocs or similar wear.
  • Never crawl up on the roof or use a ladder when electrical storms are forecast. Lightning can strike ahead of the storms and a metal ladder creates a high risk.
  • Always use caution even when folding or retracting a heavy ladder. Less attention can cause smashed fingers or other damage.
  • Let someone know when you are using a ladder (the man above didn’t do this – his wife was on the phone and didn’t hear him – he had to crawl to the door).
  • Always keep up with OSHA rules for safety and implement a company wide standard operating procedure.

Even though you may have heard this before, I figure it’s a good reminder. It’s always the unexpected things that happen to catch a person off guard. What should have been a fifteen minute gutter inspection turned into a couple of days worth of recuperation time, expense and could have been much worse.

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