Ladder-related injuries on the rise

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Alfred Health has released a study into ladder-related falls, which found a sharp increase in serious injury resulting from a ladder fall, particularly among the ‘baby-boomer’ generation.

Follow these tips to remain as safe as possible when using a ladder.


Avoid climbing a ladder if possible

·         If possible, hire a professional if ≥ 55 years or inexperienced in ladder use


Ladder inspection

·         Do not use a ladder if timber steps are splintered or cracked, or if metal steps are twisted or warped

·         Check the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs

·         Clean off any mud, grease, oil, or other slippery liquids that may have accumulated on the ladder

·         Do not make temporary repairs of broken or missing parts, as these may fail during climbing


Ladder set-up

·         Never place a ladder on uneven ground or flooring

·         Use the 4-to-1 rule: ensure that the ladder is 1 metre away from the wall at the base for every 4 metres that the ladder rises. The upper and lower sections of an extension ladder should overlap to provide stability

·         Do not place stepladders or single/extension ladders on boxes, countertops or unstable surfaces to gain additional height

·         Before using a stepladder, ensure that it is fully open and that the braces between the two sections are fully extended and locked

·         Ensure that the ladder is leaning against a stable structure, which cannot break or move away


Ladder safety 

  •   Wear a helmet when climbing a ladder

·        Ensure that shoes have slip-resistant soles

·         Maintain 3 points of contact on the ladder at all times ie. two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot

·         Do not over reach – descend and move the ladder if required

·         Leaning too far to one side, or reaching too far overhead can destabilise the ladder. Your umbilicus should not go beyond the sides of the ladder

·         Have someone stand at the base of the ladder to brace it and observe the climber

·         On a single or extension ladder, never stand above the third rung from the top and never climb above the point where the ladder touches the wall or vertical support

·         The highest standing level on a stepladder should be two steps down from the top

·         Do not stand on the top plate, side braces or back section of a step ladder

·         Do not overload the ladder. Use only light weight hand tools whilst standing on the ladder

·         Avoid using a ladder after drinking alcohol

·         Avoid using a ladder if prone to fainting, or are taking medications that predispose to dizziness