Hamilton Herald Masthead Hamilton Herald


Front Page - Friday, March 16, 2018

Stay safe on that ladder

As the cold weather slowly fades and warmer temperatures become more and more common, many homeowners’ thoughts in Chattanooga and the surrounding area are turning to a traditional activity this time of year: spring housecleaning.

But whether you enjoy getting your house in order or would rather tackle only the bare minimum of necessary chores, it’s important to work safely – especially if that work involves dragging out a ladder.

March is Ladder Safety Month. The Ladder Safety Institute has some helpful tips for home owners that are worth reading before climbing that first rung.

Choose the right ladder

Ladders are designed to hold a specific amount of weight – not just for the person climbing it but also for the paint cans or toolboxes he or she might be carrying.

Stepladders are not designed to be leaned against a wall. And extension ladders need to be able to be extended far enough to safely reach rooftops or peaked ceilings.

Don’t overreach

American Ladder Institute treasurer Dave Plotner has seen this too many times: “You’re standing on a ladder painting, your ladder is up against a wall, and you lean over to try to paint just a little bit further away instead of getting down and moving the ladder over to get closer. The ladder tips over and you can’t help but fall.”

That is the number one cause of ladder accidents.

Don’t climb too high

The top rungs add stability: Ladders aren’t meant to be climbed all the way up. “You aren’t supposed to stand on the top rung of a ladder or the next step down, but most people climb above the highest standing level,” Plotner says. “Buy a longer ladder – or hire a professional.”

Accidents often happen when someone climbs a ladder while carrying equipment or tools in both hands, Plotner says.

Swing a rope around the top of the ladder and pull the tools up after you.

In these muddy spring days, people doing outside work on a ladder might think that placing a piece of plywood or other substrate on the ground and then setting the ladder atop it will keep them safer because the ladder’s feet are less likely to sink into the ground.

That’s not a good idea, Plotner says, unless the ladder is anchored to the substrate. An extension ladder with a leveling system is a safer alternative. Or, he suggests, “Wait till the conditions improve.”

Here’s another thought: Contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga, www.hbagc.net, 423 624-9992 to get advice and recommendations on professionals who can help you with those spring cleaning chores – so you can keep your feet on the ground.