This tip is about ladders. Don't brush it off because you've used ladders all your life. You may learn a thing or two.

No Makeshifts

How many times have you used an oil drum, a bucket, a box, or a chair to step on because a ladder wasn't handy? It's pretty dumb, but we've all done it at one time or another.

Most of us have gotten away with it. But I know of some broken arms and hands that resulted from it - and even a broken back.

If you've done it and gotten away with it, it means you won the gamble. But think of what you bet. You bet a few minutes of time against a loss of $100,000 of income - plus suffering for you and your family.

Keep Control

The biggest danger when carrying ladders is hitting someone or something. You are not going to be popular if you knock over a homeowner's favorite lamp or break a technician's test instruments.

When possible, carry a ladder vertically and against your chest. Be aware of electrical wires or other overhead obstacles. A long ladder should be carried horizontally by two workers - one on each end - so that it can be controlled at both ends. If you must carry a ladder in a horizontal position by yourself, be very aware of the position of both ends of the ladder.

Damaged Ladders

Don't use damaged ladders. We've heard it a hundred times, yet we still do it. If the steps or rungs of a ladder are cracked, bent, or broken, get it back to the shop for replacement. The same goes for anything on a ladder that isn't working as it should. A wooden ladder should never be painted. That just covers up cracks.

You are not doing your boss a favor by making do with a damaged ladder. If there is an injury related to the ladder, your company stands a good chance of a hefty fine from OSHA.

Adapted from Safety for the Indoor Environment Technician, LAMA Books;

Publication date: 08/22/2005