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Ladder Safety and Preventing Falls

Home/"WVMC Voices" by Zac Woodruff, You Matter - Voices/Ladder Safety and Preventing Falls

I just bought a new ladder at Costco the other day. It’s a Little Giant Ladder System and it’s pretty darn awesome. Yes it has a ton of features including the ability to convert into a 17 foot extension ladder, but I mostly bought it because it’s widely recognized for its safety features.

Let’s face it; if you’ve ever been up on a ladder, you’ve had thoughts about falling off that ladder. Personally, I’ve always been terrified of being up on a ladder more than a few feet.

Just last month, my wife was trimming one of our trees in the backyard when she took a spill off our 6 foot A-frame ladder. She fell on the dirt and ended up with a gnarly bruise on her butt, but other than that she was okay.

The ladder she was on broke in the process, so we were in the market for buying a new ladder and we both agreed safety was the biggest feature to look for (that’s why we opted to go with the Little Giant System).

She was lucky though. Unfortunately, many people are not. In fact, the CDC reports that falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide, and 43% of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder.

Among workers, approximately 20% of fall injuries involve ladders, and among construction workers, an estimated 81% of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments (EDs) involve a ladder. Many of these injuries and fatalities are related to extension ladder usage.

The National Institute of Safety and Health has recently released an app for mobile devices that is aimed at improving extension ladder safety by providing real-time safety information delivered via the latest technology.

Misjudging the ladder angle is a significant risk factor for a fall. If the ladder is set too steeply, it is more likely to fall back or slide away during use, and if it is set too shallow then the bottom can slide out.

The NIOSH Ladder Safety phone app has an angle of inclination indicator, which uses visual and audible signals making it easier for workers and other users to set an extension ladder at the proper angle of 75.5 degrees (CDC, 2014). I recommend that anyone who uses extension ladders download and use the app (I used it this morning in fact).

When it comes to ladder safety, the more you know, the less likely you will be in an accident. Resources like the Ladder Safety app and websites likewww.cdc.gov (search for ladder safety) andwww.americanladderinstitute.org are great places for you to start educating yourself.

Just like every other hospital in the United States, we treat many individuals every year for falling off their ladders.

We have trained medical professionals who know how to treat and manage your care if you have a fall. However, we’d like to encourage you to educate yourself about ladder safety and take preventative measures to keep you from falling in the first place.

Note: For my own personal safety, I did not take a selfie from on top of the ladder. I had my wife take the picture for me.

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