WASHINGTON — Let’s be honest, we have likely all chuckled at a funny meme or photo depicting a rather creative, but unsafe way to use a ladder, or laughed while watching a home video showing not only the ups, but the quick downs of someone using a ladder improperly. However, the truth is ladder safety is no laughing matter – no matter the age. During March, we are shedding light on this topic as we celebrate National Ladder Safety Month. For adults, whether you are preparing to use a ladder around the home or farm this spring, or as part of your duties on the job, avoid a fall by placing safety above all.
According to the World Health Organization, the United States is the world leader in ladder deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 43% of fatal falls in the last decade involved a ladder. More than 137 ladder injuries occur every day leading to thousands treated in emergency rooms annually. Most common ladder falls happen at 10 feet or less. Many of these ladder incidents stem from improper use, using a faulty or defective ladder, or simply being careless and disregarding safety.
At Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® (PAF Safety Day) events held throughout North America, we have specific safety requirements around ladder usage for both those teaching as well as the participants. One example is that ladders are used to demonstrate the importance of wearing a helmet by dropping a ripe melon from a certain distance without a helmet or protective gear and then by dropping another protected by a helmet. Another instance is when PAF Safety Day participants use ladders in a fire safety or smoke house to reinforce how to properly escape during a fire. Another case is when PAF Safety Day participants may climb up a ladder on farm equipment to learn about blind spots to see first-hand what you can and cannot see from the operator seat. Furthermore, we encourage PAF Safety Day Coordinators and volunteers to always use ladders correctly and practice safety, as younger PAF Safety Day participants are watching and learning from them.
A few important do’s and don’ts for adults using ladders include:
DO – Always role model safe behavior when using a ladder by maintaining three points of contact and taking your time.
DON’T – Never allow more than one person on a ladder at a time or for children to climb with you.
DO – Always secure a ladder to a wall using ties and hooks when not in use.
DON’T – Never leave a ladder unattended, especially where children are playing.
DO – Always inspect your ladder before use to ensure no parts or pieces are missing and that it is the right size for the job.
DON’T – Never overreach or use the top two steps of an extension ladder or step ladder.
DO – Have a solid foundation. Before climbing, ensure your ladder is on a firm level base.
DON’T – Never use a ladder on uneven ground or in a cluttered area.
DO – Wear slip-resistant shoes when climbing a ladder.
DON’T – Never move or extend a ladder when someone is on it.
DO – Always face the ladder when climbing or descending and use both hands. Also, remember this practice when climbing in or out of tractors, combines, or other farm machinery.
DON’T – Never rush to a complete task and lose your safety focus when ascending or descending from a ladder.
The “Safety Day Corner” is a safety message by the Progressive Agriculture Foundation® (PAF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, with the mission to provide education, training, and resources to make farm, ranch, and rural life safer and healthier for all children and their communities. Recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America, the Foundation’s Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program, has reached more than 1.8 million youth – and counting – since the program’s inception in 1995. For more information about PAF and its programs, visit: www.progressiveag.org.
–Jana L. Davidson
Progressive Agriculture Foundation Program Manager