Ladders are an essential tool for countless jobs around the home and workplace. The primary safety concern most of us have about ladders is fall prevention, and while that is definitely a critical issue, it can distract us from other concerns. Protecting the health and safety of our hands is another vital part of safe ladder usage. Here are four ways to take care of them.
General Hand Protection
Never get complacent about your hands. Simple steps can go a long way toward keeping them healthy. Be sure you always wear gloves when working on anything with your ladder. It can have burred areas, loose screws, or countless other surface flaws that can lead to scratches and punctures. Also, make sure to moisturize your hands properly in the winter. Cold ladders can contribute to chapping and general dryness.
Use Proper Handling Techniques
Extension ladders are infamous for causing hand injuries. Never reach through the rungs as the ladder is raised or lowered, as this will allow the fly section to injure them. Instead, always hold the ladder by the rails, keeping your hands on the base section and out of the path of the fly section in case it falls. Make sure the fly section is fully locked before climbing it. Orthopedic hand specialists see many injuries that could have easily been prevented with better handling.
Observe Electrical Safety Guidelines
Every ladder has some metal parts, and many are entirely built of aluminum. Metal of any kind is a good conductor of electricity. If the ladder comes into contact with an energy source, the hands are often the first body part to be injured. Use caution around all electrical equipment, and shut off power anytime it is possible to reduce the risk of accidental shocks.
Maintain Your Ladder
We’ve already noted the chance of an accident from rope breakage. Keep ropes, rung locks, and pulleys in good condition to reduce the likelihood of that, and be sure that the rope is also smooth and in good condition to prevent burns and scratches as the ladder is raised and lowered. Be sure that the fly section moves smoothly up and down the base section, because a ladder that binds and sticks can shift unexpectedly, causing a fall.
Like any tool, ladders provide greater benefits to us when used properly. Without good maintenance and proper use, though, accidents can happen, leading to painful and disruptive hand injuries. You can avoid them by keeping your ladders and your skills in good condition.