Stay on That Ladder! (News Release)

  • Prather, Timothy G.

Many of us prune trees in late winter and do other jobs, such as painting our house, during spring and summer. Ladders are necessary for performing a number of tasks, but, did you know that hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries result each year from improper use of ladders? The stunts where Chevy Chase is hanging Christmas lights in the movie "Family Christmas" were funny, but only because they were planned and conducted by professionals. You would probably end up visiting the emergency room.

The brief time needed to move your ladder and to set up and secure it properly can prevent a painful and costly accident. Listed below are some practices that will help you avoid danger:

  • Make sure the ladder is appropriate for the job and free of damage. Metal ladders should never be used near power lines or when doing electrical work. Replace any ladder that is bent, broken or otherwise damaged.
  • The ladder must be tall enough for the job.
  • Straight or extension ladders should have the base a distance one fourth the height away from the wall. If the ladder is used to reach a roof or other elevated surface, it should extend at least three feet above the roof for safe access. Never stand on the top steps of a step ladder.
  • Make sure the ladder has firm footing to keep it from slipping or falling. If the footing is not secure, lash (tie) the ladder to a secure object.
  • Always keep your body between the ladder rails. Stretching and leaning to the side has resulted in countless falls. Move the ladder so you can safely reach your work.
  • Always face the ladder and use both hands when climbing up or down. Carry your tools and other materials in a tool belt or pouch, or use a rope to raise and lower them.
  • Protect your investment (ladders are expensive) and your life by storing ladders where they are protected from the weather and other damage.

This news release was distributed by the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, Knoxville, Tennessee 37901. Publication date: February 1991.

Timothy G. Prather, Agricultural Safety Specialist, Agricultural Engineering Department, University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, Knoxville, Tennessee 37901.

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