Archive for safety on ladders

Rungs to Ruin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 15, 2009 by davegerry


Another weather story. I must be getting desperate. That’s always the first sign that a reporter is tapped out…when you pull out the old chestnut of weather.

Anyway, we’re supposed to be smacked with an incredible amount of rain here in the next few days. They call it the Pineapple Express because it’s a weather system that comes from somewhere out there in the Pacific, somewhere in the vast, distant, general direction of Hawaii. It’s a very romantic and meaningless euphemism.

In advance of the heavy rain, I am contemplating getting out the ladder to check the eaves troughs for those pesky downspout-blocking leaves. This is always a stupid idea..getting out the ladder, I mean. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says there are 500,000 ladder-related injuries in the United States every year. Not all of these injuries are from falls. Some are due to pinches, cuts, drops, over-extensions, even lightning strikes, I suppose. There is no end to the ways you can cause yourself harm with a ladder. It’s the most useful yet lethal device in the garage.

For that reason, ladders may come with more manufacturer warnings than any other product.  It’s doubtful that one in ten people actually read them.

Here are several, self-evident , common sense guidelines to using a ladder that people violate routinely.

1)  Inspect every ladder each time before use.

2)  Do not use the ladder for anything other than the obvious use for a ladder.

3)  Do not stand on the top step.

4)  Always face the ladder when ascending or descending.

5)  Wear rubber soled-shoes.

I’ve broken all of those rules over the years, many at the same time. I’m probably lucky to have escaped intact but I’ve also become a lot wiser with age. Number 4 is interesting. I used to routinely come down a ladder facing out. I must have rationalized that if I plummet at least I’ll be able to see where I’m going to splat. Number 5…I’ve also been up a ladder in warm weather wearing sandals. Sandals! What the hell kind of safe footwear is that? Even the Romans knew better than to go up a ladder in sandals. When it comes to ladders, many of us become a little muddled after we pass that third rung. Must be the thinner air.

a bad ladder

One of the dumbest things you can do with a ladder is attempt to walk it. What makes people think they can skitter along the side of a building, high above the ground, by rocking or jumping up and down on a ladder like it’s a pogo stick?  This is the result of watching too many Road Runner cartoons or emulating John Belushi’s peeping Tom turn in the movie  Animal House . If a manoeuvre tends to defy the laws of physics, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get away with it on a ladder.

I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going up there. If the rain is heavy enough, perhaps the resulting torrent will simply flush those leaves right over the edge of the eave. There…I’ve rationalized my way to better health and happiness through protecting life and limb

I’ve also made way for an afternoon nap.