Saturday, February 23, 2008

Honey, Please Hold the Ladder!

The following article was written by Micki Savage in the February 15, 2008 issue of the Washington County (AL) News.

A few weeks ago my brother-in-law, Kenneth had one of those freak ladder accidents. You know the kind, the kind you can’t laugh about until after you find out if the person is still breathing or not.

To make a long story short, let’s just say Kenneth went on the worst ladder ride of his life. He started his ride by securing (and I use that word loosely) the ladder and climbing to the roof top. Kathy (his helpful and loving wife) warned him that the bottom of the ladder didn’t look secure. Kenneth repositioned the ladder and headed for the roof.

Now this is where the story gets colorful and Kenneth has the black and blue marks all over his body to prove it. Just as he reached the top, the bottom of the ladder slipped and Kenneth rode the ladder all the way down the side of the house, crashing onto the deck and an outdoor pipe. Needless to say, the 15 minutes after the fall were total madness.

Kenneth was rolling on the deck, moaning in pain, and Kathy was screaming as she watched him roll around the deck. The dogs were barking, and water was blasting everywhere from the broken pipe. Man! How quickly a small home repair can turn into a nightmare!
And to think, this whole incident may have been avoided by saying five little words: “Honey, please hold the ladder.”

Ladders are useful tools, but if you do not follow the proper safety tips, you could hurt yourself. In fact, according to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 547,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, clinics, and other medical settings in 2007 because of injuries related to ladder use. Most injuries are cuts, bruises, and fractured bones.

To prevent ladder falls, here are some DO’s and DON’Ts:

  • Inspect ladder before using
  • Place on firm and level surface
  • Face ladder when climbing up or down
  • Keep three points of contact when on a ladder
  • Use the correct ladder for the work performed
  • Secure an extension ladder on top and bottom whenever possible
  • Keep your body within the rails of the ladder while working on it
  • Watch out for overhead power lines when using the ladder
  • Have a second person hold the bottom of the ladder (this one’s for you, Kenneth!)
  • Extend an extension ladder three feet beyond the top surface the ladder is resting on
  • Destroy the ladder if broken, worn, or damaged beyond repair. Use fall protection if possible.


  • Use a worn or damaged ladder
  • Paint a wooden ladder. This covers up imperfections
  • Carry tools and material up a ladder
  • Use an extension ladder as a platform. A ladder is designed with vertical, not horizontal strength
  • Use a step ladder as an extension ladder
  • Over extend an extension ladder
  • Have more than one person on a ladder at a time
  • Use a ladder in high wind conditions
  • Use a ladder on a scaffold
  • Stand on the top of a step ladder
  • Use a metal or aluminum ladder near electrical power lines
  • Use ladder as scaffold uprights
  • Use the rungs of a ladder for a winch point
  • Place the top of a ladder against a flexible or unstable surface like a window or place the ladder rung against a beam
  • Leave a ladder unattended for extended periods of time


  • Calmly assess the situation, and determine if you are hurt.
  • Get up slowly
  • If you feel that an injury has occurred that prevents standing or walking, don’t panic. Call for assistance. If the injury is serious, call 911.
  • If you are not injured, rest a while and regain you composure before climbing again.

So, to all you weekend handymen, happy climbing!

Where is the Horse Sense?

Follow the recommendations in the DO’s and DON’T’s and IF YOU FALL’s listed in this article. All the above make complete the sense of a horse by THINKING about what you are doing and planning ahead to work safely.

Don’t use the “south end of a northbound donkey” while attempting to do any type work off a ladder.


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