Looking at these pictures makes me dizzy, especially after a near accident while using them to paint my house. More on that later. A study published in 2014 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide, and 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder. Among workers, approximately 20 percent of fall injuries involve ladders, and among construction workers, an estimated 81 percent of fall injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involve a ladder. In one study, thoracic and spine injuries were the most common injuries sustained after falls from ladders, affecting 29% and 26% patients, respectively. The remaining injuries in order of decreasing frequency were head (19.41%), lower-extremity fractures (18.82%); upper-extremity fractures (17.65%); pelvic fractures (10%); and intra-abdominal injuries (7.35%). The incidence of traumatic brain injury is also very high. One problem is looking up from the ground the top of the ladder doesn’t seem that high but people have sustained severe head injuries just stumbling on a curb. Another issue is using the ladder in ways it was not designed for. Take a close look at the picture immediately below. That is not a straight ladder, it is a step-ladder with one side propped up against the wall…. not designed for that!
I have to admit being guilty of not paying attention to the drawing on the side of my 30-foot ladder. It shows the correct angle of the ladder with respect to the building it is to lean against. All this time it turns out I had the ladder too close to the house, increasing the tendency for me to fall backward. There’s really no substitute for the “buddy” system…a second person at but not on the ladder, just in case. Just in case what??? I found you can do everything right and still run into trouble. It was a hot day and I was painting the second story of my house. There is a porch on the second level with an asphalt roof coating (black, sticky stuff). Realizing it was going to get hot I began work at seven a.m. As usual, I underestimated the amount of time it was going to take to get the job done. By eleven a.m. it was hot but I was determined to get it finished. My first mistake was staying up there even though I was getting really tired. The brush was getting really heavy. All of the sudden I felt movement but I could not tell where it was coming from. The feet of the ladder were pressing on the asphalt and the ladder was at the angle you would expect, pushing the feet away from the house. Next thing I know I instinctively grabbed on to the gutter as the ladder fell out from under me. The asphalt had become soft and the feet slid away from the house on the now-liquid asphalt. Fortunately, a near-by neighbor saw my plight and raised the ladder. Had I used the buddy system, I could have avoided a near nasty fall. Think ahead before using ladders. It’s not worth a trip to the hospital (or worse) to get a job done.