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Ladder Safety

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that each year more than 511,000 people are treated for cuts, bruises and fractured bones from improper use of ladders. More than 300 people a year die from ladder related injuries. When choosing a ladder be certain the ladder is able to carry the amount of weight that will be applied.

Inspect the ladder. Be sure the spreaders can be locked when open and that there are safety feet on the ends.

Check for loose or bent rungs.

The ladder should be clean of grease, oil, mud, snow and other slippery materials.

Carry a single or extension ladder parallel to the ground. Hold the side rail in the middle of the ladder for balance. Always carry a stepladder in the closed position.

The ground under the ladder should be level and firm. Do not set the ladder up on a muddy surface.

Set the base of your ladder one foot away from the wall for every four feet of ladder height.

Do not use bricks, boxes, etc. to raise the height of the ladder.

Keep all ladders and other tools at least ten feet from any power lines.

Keep ladder off of window panes or sashes.

If using the ladder in an orchard, turn the ladder sideways, and ease into the tree. Place a straight ladder so that if a limb breaks, it will fall into the tree.

Never lean a ladder against a movable object.

Never use a stepladder as a straight ladder.

Face the ladder when you climb up or down. Hold on to the side rails with both hands. Carry only necessary tools on a belt, use a rope to raise heavier equipment.

Never overreach. Always keep your body centered between the rails.

Wear shoes with nonskid soles. Don't wear leather-soled shoes; they can be slippery. Shoelaces should be securely tied. Make sure shoes and hands are clean and dry.

Don't try to "jog" or "walk" the ladder to a new location while standing on it. Climb down and reposition the ladder.

Never use a ladder in high wind.

Never use the top two rungs of a ladder.

On stepladders, never stand on the paint shelf, spreaders or back section.

Never stand on the top rung of any ladder.

And finally, never, never leave a raised ladder unattended.

Author: Marilyn Pokorney Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment. Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading. Website:

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