A recent report showed that approximately 7 Victorians die each year as a result of injuries sustained in a ladder fall at home. Ladder falls have also led to over 8,000 hospital admissions between 2009 and 2012. Most ladder fall hospitalisations occurred among 55-74 year old men.
A fall of 1 to 2 metres can be enough to cause broken bones, spinal cord damage, severe brain injury or even death.
Common causes of ladder falls in the home include:
· Pruning/trimming hedges/shrubs
· Fruit picking off trees
· Cleaning windows
· Cleaning gutters
· Painting ceilings
· Fixing roofs
Before stepping up on a ladder follow these safety tips:
· Read safety warnings and follow the manufacturer’s advice
· Check that your ladder is in good condition, ensure it has non-slip safety feet, and that safety locks and braces are in place
· Place the ladder on dry, firm and level ground
· Wear non-slip footwear
· Work within your arm’s reach and avoid leaning out
· Only climb as far as the second step from the top of a step-ladder, or the third step from the top of a straight ladder
· Never put the ladder on top of other objects to gain extra height
· Avoid using a ladder during hot days to prevent getting dizzy and losing balance
Work within your limits and make sure another person is at home while you are working with a ladder, should you need help. It is a good idea to have another person to help hold the ladder, to prevent it from slipping.
If you are concerned about using your ladder, you could:
· Check the age and condition of your ladder, and if necessary replace it with a new one that has the latest safety features; seek ladder safety advice by visiting your local hardware store
· Ask a family member or neighbour to assist you with the task
· Hire a tradesman/handyman to do the ladder task for you
· If you are 65 years or older and you need assistance, the Home and Community Care (HACC) Program may be able to help; contact your local Council to get an assessment of your eligibility for support.
For more information on ladder safety visit the Product Safety Australia website (link opens a new window) and see the factsheet ‘Safety Alert – Using a ladder’ (link opens a new window).