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Ladder safety: Accidents and the reasons they happen

Ladder safety is an important element in any workplace. Whether you're using them regularly or only on occasion, knowing the right way to use a ladder is key to staying safe. Some common reasons ladder injuries take place include losing your balance, overreaching, mis-stepping, and mounting or dismounting improperly. If you're not trained to use a ladder properly, it can lead to accidents and injuries that you may have to seek workers' compensation for.

Every year, there are over 164,000 emergency room visits due to falls from ladders. According to the World Health Organization, the United States leads the world in ladder-related deaths. Around 300 deaths happen each year.

Surprisingly, most of the deaths involving ladders are caused by falls of 10 feet or less, and the number of people falling and dying has only increased. How can you stay safe on a ladder? Ladder levels can help. These levels show if the legs are balanced and even on the ground. Another possibility is a ladder stabilizer. The stabilizer braces the ladder when a stable surface isn't available.

Remember to only load the ladder with as much weight as it's designed for, and only use ladders with rungs that are not damaged, rusting, or otherwise defective. Don't use your ladder in windy conditions, and if you're not feeling well or physically fit, save going up the ladder for another day. Don't sit on the top rung of the ladder, and on a step ladder, never stand higher than the second rung from the top, as this can lead to an imbalance.

Source: International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, Inc., "Ladder Safety," Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard, accessed March 04, 2016

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