Seems easy enough, right? Using a ladder. What could happen? Check out the ladder mishaps on YouTube. Hilarious. And although ladder falls make for viral videos, a recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals that a fall off a ladder is very easy and it often can be deadly. The study, published in a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), found that falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury and mortality nationwide, and 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder. Among workers, approximately 20 percent of fall injuries involve ladders, and among construction workers, an estimated 81 percent of fall injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involve a ladder. One of the most common tools on a job site, ladders can also be one of the most dangerous. Part of their danger comes from their familiarity. Most people have a ladder at home so they don’t treat it with the same respect as they would a buzz saw or even a power drill. Consequently, it is easy to use a ladder improperly. Here are five tips for ladder safety. How many do you practice? Or not?
5. Get the right sized ladder. It might sound obvious but it is easy to get a ladder that is too tall and hits the ceiling. A ladder that is too tall can result in head injuries by getting you too close to an obstruction that gets in the way. The most common ladders are step ladders. These are ladders that fold out and stand by themselves. They come in 4 feet, 6 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet, 12 feet, 14 feet and 16 feet. For ladders that are 8 feet and up, a second person should stand at the bottom of the ladder to hold it in place. A lot of people get hurt on the 4 and 6 foot ladders because they feel they are not that far off the ground so they take risks while on the ladder. Using a step ladder that is too small increases the temptation to stand on the edge and reach too far. Small step ladders are often the worst culprits regarding injuries. Serving as easy-to-grab solution to the hard to reach spot, they end up as the ultimate trip hazard.
4. After step ladders, the most common ladder is an extension ladder. These ladders lean up again walls. They start around 12 feet and go up to 36 feet. These ladders are dangerous because most people do not take the time to make sure the supporting surface is secure. It is simple to lean the ladder too much or not enough, causing the ladder to buckle if it leans too much or to fall over backwards if it’s leaning too little. To see if an extension ladder is resting against a wall at the proper angle, put your toes against the feet of the ladder and extend your arms straight out. You should be able to comfortably rest your hands on the rung in front of you. When you’re on the ladder, keep a hand on a rung whenever possible. To properly use an extension ladder, the top should be tied off on the left and on the right to keep the ladder from sliding. Setting a ladder against unstable walls/places is also hazardous. When in the throes of construction, it is easy to set a ladder against a wall that isn’t quite ready to maintain your weight. Be sure you have a strong ladder and a strong wall.
3. The last type of commonly used ladder is a fold up ladder. They usually fold in 4 places and can be set up in many different positions. Because of all of the hinges, they are not good for any heavy work. They are convenient because they are easy to store and will work well for small jobs that are close to the ground. With all ladders, make sure all the joints of the ladder are in good working order and are locked in place before putting any weight on the steps. And if the ladder is retractable, make sure all joints are firmly in place before use. Replace ladders that have rusted out. When using any ladder, maintain a steady center of gravity by keeping your belt buckle within the ladder’s sides. Wearing a tool belt to keep your hands free is also recommended.
2. Using random items as ladders is practically a rite of passage in a haunted house. Haunted house builders are the ultimate do-it-yourselfers. Paint cans turned over. Chairs pulled to the side. Random desks, props, tables… all tempting as an easy thing to climb on to reach a quick fix or a last minute task. As a haunt owner, if you use this method of building, you can bet your staff/crew will too, so set the example and prevent injuries across the board. It is tempting to save time by using random items as ladders, but think how much time will be wasted if you break your arm.
1. What is one of the most common mistakes on the job site? Leaving things on top of a ladder and walking away. This creates a lot of headaches. Literally. Someone sets a heavy tool, like a hammer or staple gun on the top step of a ladder, finishes the job and leaves the tool on top. Then someone else moves the ladder and the tool ends up falling from the ladder and hitting them on the top of the head. Not good.
Since ladders are one of the most common tools on the site, using them improperly can lead to the most common of injuries. Building a haunt requires more than just brains on display. Use the brain in your head as well.
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