Remember to practice ladder safety during holiday decorating

November 26, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. Nov. 26, 2010

Thanksgiving is history and the holiday season is ready to blaze forth in lights and decorations hung from eaves, roofs and other difficult-to-reach spots.

Using a ladder to hang seasonal decorations carries risks. The state Department of Labor & Industries reminds homeowners and employers to practice ladder safety as the holiday season starts.

Each year, falls related to ladders injure almost 900 workers across Washington. Such falls can result in permanent disability and even death.

Under state law, employers must train workers required to use a ladder to follow safety precautions and how to recognize ladder hazards. Use the following 10 tips for ladder safety during holiday decorating:

  • Carefully inspect the ladder for defects. Check for cracks and corrosion; bolts and rivets should be secure. Tag and remove unsafe ladders from service.
  • Make sure the ladder’s feet work properly and have slip-resistant pads.
  • Use a fiberglass ladder if there is any chance of contact with electricity.
  • When setting the ladder, look for a safe location with firm, level footing and rigid support for the top of the ladder. Be sure to set the ladder at an angle per the manufacturer’s guidance.
  • When climbing off of a ladder at an upper level, make sure the ladder extends three feet above the landing.
  • When climbing the ladder, use three points of contact — keep one hand and both feet or both hands and one foot in contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Never carry any load that could cause you to lose balance.
  • Never stand on top of a ladder.
  • Do not pull, lean, stretch or make sudden moves on a ladder that could cause the ladder to tip. A scaffold or other safe working surface may be a better choice for your task.
  • Avoid setting the ladder near exit doors, near the path of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
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