Cleaning gutters. Washing windows. Holiday decorating.

These are just a few of the chores people will complete this fall while using a ladder.

They also may be the reasons that orthoinfo broadcasts public-safety-announcements (PSAs) about ladder safety. Or perhaps the good people at orthoinfo want you to avoid becoming part of EHS Today’s “Idiots on Ladders” photo galleryCaution: The stunts depicted in these photos should only be undertaken by trained stunt professionals.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 500,000 ladder-related injuries required medical treatment in 2014.

Bone & Joint wants to help you avoid becoming a 2016 statistic. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you climb your ladder this season.

Climb safely with these 19 ladder safety reminders.

  1. Check the weather report. Avoid using ladders in windy, rainy or snowy weather. (Be extra careful if you need to brush snow off of your roof or satellite dish.)
  2. Assess how you are feeling. If you feel weak, dizzy or have back pain, do yourself a favor and stay off ladders until you’re feeling better.
  3. Dress for ladder climbing. Wear clothing that fits snug but still allows you to move freely. Baggy clothes, jacket pulls or loose laces can get caught and cause falls.
  4. Clean the soles of your shoes to prevent slipping. Losing your footing several feet off the ground can have bone crushing results.
  5. Select the right ladder for your job. Use this three point check.
    – Make sure your ladder reaches three (3) feet higher than your upper landing surface.
    – Make sure your ladder is rated for the load it will bear. If you’re hauling materials up the ladder, it should be able to hold four times your body weight plus the weight you’ll carry.

    – If you are working near wiring, use a wooden ladder to prevent electrocution.

  6. Inspect your ladder. Rickety ladders with loose rungs are dangerous. Take a quick check to make sure your ladder is in good working condition.
  7. Use the buddy system. If you live alone, call someone.  Ask them to help you with the ladder. You can also ask them to check on you.
  8. Place the ladder on a level surface. Make sure your ladder is stable before climbing. If possible, have someone hold the ladder for you.

  9. Check the angle of your ladder. Ortho info recommends a 4-to-1, rise-to-run ratio. For every four feet of height, there should be one foot of space between the base of the ladder and the vertical plane. For safety, an eight-foot ladder needs to be placed two feet out from a wall. A twelve-foot ladder needs to be angled out three feet.
  10. Maintain three points of contact with the ladder for safety. When climbing or standing, make sure two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot are on the ladder at all times. This three-point contact provides the most stability.
  11. Don’t string ladders together to make longer sections. If you need a longer ladder, rent, buy or borrow one. If you have a large job, you may want to consider renting scaffolding to access those hard to reach areas. Stringing ladders together poses a significant safety hazard.
  12. Don’t stand on the top or the top three rungs of a ladder. Ladders are designed for stability based on the geometry of angles. Teetering at the top of the ladder increases your risk of falling.
  13. Only climb on the front-side of the ladder. The cross-braced section of a step ladder is for support, not climbing.
  14. Face the ladder when climbing. Grasp the side with at least one hand when moving up or down the ladder.
  15. Avoid touching electrical wires when setting up or climbing on your ladder.

  16. Make sure the ladder is empty before moving it. Don’t move a ladder when someone or something is one it.
  17. Put the ladder away when it’s not in use. Ladders can fall. They also tempt children who like to climb.
  18. Don’t overextend your reach. Over stretching makes the ladder unstable. Use your belt buckle as a guide. If your buckle moves past the sides of the ladder, you’re stretching too far. Climb down and re-position the ladder for safety.
  19. Only allow one person on the ladder at a time.

Remember the “Rule of Three.” It’s key for ladder safety.  (We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating to be safe.) 

  • Make sure your ladder extends three feet above the landing surface.
  • Don’t’ stand higher than the top three rungs.
  • Maintain three points of contact.

If you happen to fall in spite of taking precautions, assess your injuries. If possible, get up slowly and seek medical attention. If you are seriously injured and can’t move, call for help if you can.

Call 911 if you have your cell phone or call for help by yelling to neighbors or passersby.

Bone & Joint hopes these safety reminders keep you and your family safe from ladder injuries this fall.

Originally published in the November 2016 issue of e-Motion.