The following is a guest blog post courtesy of Dave Francis, National Safety Director for Little Giant Ladders.
As the National Safety Director for an American ladder manufacturer, I travel all over country performing free safety training sessions, so I hear a lot of stories about ladder accidents and injuries. Recently I heard about a young man, we’ll call him Jason, who fell from a six-foot stepladder while reaching for something. He had been standing on the top cap when the ladder destabilized and tipped sideways. Jason landed partly on the ladder and partly on the concrete floor below, sustaining severe head injuries and broken bones.
Jason, like anyone else, wasn’t trying to be unsafe and he certainly didn’t want to be injured; he was just trying to get the job done. All too often we overlook a safety precaution because it’s just a little thing or we’re in a hurry. I am sure that if he had it to do again, he would climb down and get a taller ladder. I hear stories like this every day, and some of them are much worse.
Jason’s story is a sad example of one of the most common causes of ladder accidents: using the wrong ladder for the job. I see the same thing at every job site I visit—shortcuts and workarounds to get the job done faster. Shortcuts like using a ladder that is too short for the job, climbing on the top rung to reach just a little higher, or using a stepladder against the wall like an lean-to extension ladder are proven to lead to accidents. And these accidents are usually more serious because they often end with a fall. I promise you, it is worth the extra 60 seconds it takes to get the right ladder for the job.
Adjustable ladders and multi-use have become very popular in the last few years. These ladders can quickly adjust to different jobs, providing a safe, stable solution.
We get so used to using ladders every day that sometimes we get complacent and don’t pay as close attention to what we’re doing. We need to remember that ladders are inherently dangerous, and using them incorrectly or using the wrong ladder for the job, can result in serious injury. Every day over 2,000 people are injured in a ladder-related accident, as many as 100 of those people suffer a long-term or permanent disability, and one person dies—every day. A combination paying attention to ladder safety principles and using more modern, innovative products will literally prevent injuries and save lives.
National Safety Director, Little Giant Ladder Systems
* Learn more about ladder safety in our latest Extreme How-To article, Respect Your Ladder when Working at Heights