Superstition says it's bad luck to walk under a ladder. But for the 90,000 Americans who land in emergency rooms each year from ladder falls, the real trouble starts once they climb the rungs.
These tips from experts including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Centers for Disease Control can help keep you upright as you tackle your spring chores:
Check the ladder before you climb Months of storage and jostling can take their toll on ladders. Check for damage or cracks in rungs and side rails, look for missing or malfunctioning safety feet, and for extension ladders, inspect the latches that secure the extension when it's fed out to full length. If anything looks amiss, don't risk it. Hire the work done (by a contractor who supplies his or her own safe ladder) or invest in a new ladder.
Choose the right-height ladder for the jobIf you're climbing onto a roof, make sure the ladder extends at least three feet past the surface you'll be stepping onto.
Don't exceed ladder weight capacity If you're climbing a ladder rated for 200 pounds, for example, take into account not only your weight, but the weight of any tools or materials you're carrying
Follow the 4:1 rule For every four feet of elevation, the ladder's base should be set one foot out. Always place the ladder on solid ground against a secure surface – and never in front of a door that can be opened. Consider staking the ladder into the ground, if possible, or enlist a helper to steady the base.
Never prop a step ladder against a wall...to substitute for s a straight ladder. Step ladders should be used only with spreaders open and locked in place.
Keep your belt buckle between the side rails Not only will that keep you from catching it on the rails, but it reminds you not to lean out too far. It's always better to climb down and move the ladder.
Maintain three-point contactOnly one foot or hand should be out of contact with the ladder at any time.
Always face the ladder...when you're climbing or descending.
Never stand on the top rungs...or paint shelf of a ladder.
Avoid electrical hazardsCheck for overhead power lines before carrying or setting up a ladder.