WHAT GOES UP THE LADDER OFTEN COMES DOWN THE HARD WAY
With labor costs climbing higher than ever, more and more people are becoming do-it-yourselfers. They're repairing, replacing, refinishing, and rebuilding. It's given birth to a whole industry, in the wake of which has come and increased traffic of injured and maimed visiting doctors offices.
What starts as a good idea to have a lot of fun and save money ends up being a highly regrettable experience. What happens is that too many people decide overnight that they're going to be plumbers, brick masons, concrete mixers, carpenters, painters and wallpaper hangers. And quite a large number of these jobs around the house require the presence of an age-old device, called "a ladder"... which happens also to be the cause of many accidents and injuries.
A ladder is such a simple tool. It has few sharp edges. It's not overly mechanical. It doesn't make any noise. And it needs no gasoline or electricity. So it doesn't cut, punch, get tangled, run away with you, or catch fire. How, then, does it injure so many people every year? It doesn't. The danger lies not in the ladder, like so many other helpful devices, but in the negligence of the people who use it. Ladder-related accidents and injuries are a direct result of the user's carelessness and lack of attention to common-sense precautions.
The American Chiropractic Association and your doctor of chiropractic offer the following helpful suggestions to avoid injury:
1. Always face the ladder when climbing up or down and while working. Don't leave ladders standing. They're always inviting temptation to children.
2. Be sure the ladder has secure footing. Soft ground can be especially hazardous since it can give way slowly and unexpectedly under weight.
3. Never climb all the way to the top of a ladder. The higher you climb on a ladder, the less stability you will have and the greater the potential for toppling. The top of a step ladder isn't meant to be a step. Use it to set tools or materials on if you wish.
4. Before using a ladder, inspect it for breaks, loose rungs or insecure steps. Don't use a ladder that has defects.
5. If you need to move to the right or left... climb down and move the ladder. Never stretch on a ladder. The stretching alone will put a tremendous strain on various parts of your musculo-skeletal system. But in addition, it's a good way to lose your balance and wind up with a broken arm or leg, a fractured skull or a serious back injury.
6. If you're leaning a ladder against a wall, make sure the distance from the base of the wall to the foot of the ladder is about one-fourth the length of the ladder.
7. If you're working with or around electrical wiring, don't use a metal ladder. Many people have been electrocuted this way.
8. Use extreme caution when working with any power tool while standing on a ladder. A fall could result in serious cuts or burns.
9. Use the ladder that's right for the job. If you'll be carrying heavy materials up and down, you'll need a heavy-duty ladder. Also, don't use more ladder than you need.
If you fall from a ladder or pull your back or strain yourself in some way, don't just brush yourself off and figure no serious damage has been done so long as you can walk away. Some of the more serious injuries are the least obvious when they occur.
Unexpected, awkward and off-balance movements, as well as falls, can cause serious musculo-skeletal problems, In case you do fall, seek immediate health care attention.