If ladders are unsafe or used incorrectly, they can cause serious injuries. Always make sure a ladder is in good condition before using it.
Ladders form part of most home garages and work sheds.
Risks and injuries
If the ladder is not in good condition or is used unsafely, falls can occur and cause fractured limbs, spinal cord damage, severe brain injury or death.
On average 4.5 Australians, mainly men, die each year after falling from a ladder. Most men injured or killed after falling from a ladder were at or nearing retirement age and were doing maintenance around the home.
The Australian National Coroners Information System indicates:
- the average age of people who die in ladder-related accidents is 65 years old
- 32 per cent of deaths were in the 70–79 year age group
- 96 per cent of fatalities were male
- over 85 per cent of deaths occur in non-occupational activities
- 34 per cent of these deaths occur during home maintenance activities.
Ladder injury occurs in an older age group than DIY injuries in general — the peak age for DIY injuries is 30–34 years.
- Ensure the ladder is the right height for the jobs you are likely to use it for.
- Check the weight capacity of the ladder.
- If you are a senior citizen or a person with disability you may be eligible for assistance with home maintenance from either your council or local agencies.
- Read the safety warnings on the ladder and follow the manufacturer's advice.
- Ensure the ladder is in good condition and fitted with non-slip safety feet. Store it in a dry place to prevent warping or corrosion.
- Place the ladder on dry, firm and level ground that is clear of power lines and exposed electrical wiring, and engage all locks and braces.
- Secure the top of an extension ladder into position before starting work. The top of the ladder should extend at least one metre over the top of the surface it is resting on.
- Stay in the centre of the ladder as you climb. Never lean out too far from a ladder, always work within arm's reach and be careful when pulling items from shelves, gutters and roofs as this may cause you to lose your balance.
- Only climb to the second rung from the top of a step ladder or the third rung from the top of an extension ladder.
- Two people should never climb the ladder at the same time even if their combined weight is below the maximum weight capacity.
- Never use a ladder if you are alone and cannot get assistance if you have an accident.