By MS. RITA HESS, Staff Writer
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—otherwise known as OSHA—falls from portable ladders (step, straight, combination, and extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries. Sadly, these same incidents occur at home, too.
In fact, several people I know have had ladder accidents. One was sidelined for several weeks after a fall from near the top of an extension ladder (that was perched precariously on scaffolding). Another took early retirement after breaking both legs in a fall from only the second rung of a stepladder.
Ladders are obviously beneficial. They help us reach areas we need to access! So what is it that makes them so dangerous on the job and at home? I have a couple of theories, and then I will give you some solid advice from OSHA.
First, I feel it is human nature to think accidents happen only to other people. We tend to believe we are invincible or too young or too cautious or too experienced or too agile (or insert your favorite excuse here). Truth is, accidents can happen to anyone at any time of day in any season.
I also think we are a bit lazy—or maybe we just don’t think things through. After all, if I know I am going to need a can of paint, a paint roller, two sizes of brushes, a tarp, and a hammer when I climb the ladder and reach the eaves, why would I make two trips instead of carrying everything at once? Similarly, once I am 15’ off the ground, why would I climb all the way down and move the ladder over 6” if I can just lean waaaaay out there and reach that spot with the tip of my brush?
Okay, enough speculation about how we get into these predicaments. Here are some OSHA recommendations to keep you alive and well. Follow them at home and at work!
Finally, be a good wingman. Friends don’t let friends use ladders improperly … or something like that!