If your company offers holiday lighting to keep workers busy during the slow season, don’t forget that one main reason customers are hiring you is because they don’t want the dangerous task of scaling the ladder during the winter months.
Falls while installing Christmas lights can result in severe, life-altering injuries if proper safety precautions are not taken. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found the most frequently reported holiday decorating incidents seen in emergency departments involved falls.
Before using a ladder, be sure to make sure it isn’t damaged. Look for dents, cracks or broken parts and take note if the ladder seems unsteady or loose before climbing. Be sure to know the ladder’s weight limit as well before ascending with your materials.
Here are some ladder placement tips:
- A ladder’s safest pitch is when the horizontal projected distance from the top support to the base is no more than 1/4 of the vertical distance between these points. The more the base is moved from this position, the greater the risk that it will slip outward and fall.
- When placing a ladder on frozen surfaces, make sure its safety feet are deeply embedded in the ground. One way to do this is by using a claw hammer to dig 2 to 3 inches deep into the surface and placing the safety feet in the hole.
- Secure the ladder by attaching ropes or straps to its side rails – not rungs – onto a fixed, stable object, such as stakes in the ground.
- The spotter should stand in front of the ladder, hold both side rails and place one foot on the bottom rung of the ladder.
When climbing a ladder, it is important to have slip-resistant shoes. Also, remember to wipe off any mud or slippery substances from shoe soles. Maintain three points of contact at all times by either keeping two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder when climbing.
Keep your body centered on the ladder. Be sure not to lean too far in either direction; if something is out of reach, get down and move the ladder. Do not work from the top three rungs.
For more tips on ladder safety, click here.