Homeowner Falls Off Ladder
This is a story about ladder safety, one of the most dangerous hazards people encounter on a regular basis. This Illinois homeowner set up a ladder and was attempting to get on his roof in November to blow leaves off the roof. He recently had new concrete poured on his patio. He set up his ladder on the new, smooth concrete and rested the ladder against his gutter. The temperature outside was around 30 degrees. The homeowner strapped his gas-powered blower to his back, grabbed the hose with one hand and started up the ladder. As he reached the roof edge, he started stepping from the ladder to the roof. Just as he took his first step onto the roof, the ladder slid out from under him, causing him to fall approximately 10 feet to the ground below. The ladder lost traction on the ground because conditions were icy and the base pads of the ladder were plastic.
His wife, an ER nurse who happened to be home heard the fall and came to his aid and called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. The homeowner suffered a broken wrist and a broken arm, each requiring screws and plates to aid in realigning the bones. He was out of work for four months and needed six months of physical therapy. He learned an important lesson about how dangerous ladders can be.
WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY?
• The homeowner should have made sure his ladder was set up on a stable surface and that it was set up at a proper angle so it couldn’t slide out from under him.
• He also could have taken more care in carrying his blower up the ladder so it didn’t cause him to lose his balance.
HOW DOES LADDER SAFETY RELATE TO OUR WORK?
• Always set up ladders on solid, level, stable ground.
• Inspect the ladder, rungs and rails for damage before climbing.
• Let someone know you’ll be using a ladder to work on your roof or gutters.
• Make sure ladders are set up at the proper angle so they can’t slide out
from under you. Extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the roof line, or landing edge.
• Always maintain three points of contact when on a ladder (i.e. two hands
and one foot or two feet and one hand).
• Do not climb with tools in hand—use a tool belt.
• Don’t overreach or stretch too far as this could cause the ladder to tip —
reposition the ladder closer to the work instead.
• Think about ladder safety as you plan your task. Take precautions to eliminate risks.
While this homeowner was unlucky to have fallen off his ladder, he was also lucky to have survived a fall from such a height. Unfortunately, too many people are killed every year from falling off ladders.