Superstition says it is bad luck to walk under ladders. However, being on top of one may not be safe either, unless of course certain precautions are followed. To raise awareness about exactly what those precautions are and to warn of the consequences of not following them, the American Ladder Institute (ALI) named March 2017 its inaugural National Ladder Safety Month.
“National Ladder Safety Month is the only movement dedicated exclusively to the promotion of ladder safety, at home and at work. (It) will bring heightened awareness to the importance of the safe use of ladders through resources, training and a national dialogue,” according to ALI’s website.
The organization maintains ladder accidents are preventable, and safety planning, training and continuous innovation in product design will prevent fatalities. An estimated 300 people die in ladder-related accidents each year, and the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates more than 175,000 people were injured on ladders severely enough to require a trip to the hospital in 2013.
To prevent injuries while using a ladder around the house, the NSC recommends four steps: choosing the right ladder, starting with a firm foundation, climbing with care and considering the conditions. The right ladder and style of ladder can be determined by considering how high you need to reach, the amount of weight the ladder needs to hold and if you are working indoors or outdoors. Avoiding any type of wet, slippery or soft surface is recommended when using a ladder, as is always gripping the rungs, not standing higher than the third rung from the top, and not overreaching.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also recommends ensuring ladder rungs are shaped so that an employee’s foot cannot slide off, a locking device is used and warning labels are visible when using a ladder in the workplace.