Prevent Injuries by Practicing Ladder Safety

By Jon McCreath, NPI Franchise Owner, Emerson, Georgia

Inspector on LadderA Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report on ladder safety showed some startling statistics concerning the frequency and severity of ladder-related accidents in the United States. Every year thousands of people are injured and hundreds are killed. By understanding the causes of ladder accidents the vast majority could be prevented.

  • More than 90,000 people receive emergency room treatment from ladder-related injuries every year
  • Elevated falls account for almost 700 occupational deaths annually
  • These deaths account for 15 percent of all occupational deaths
  • OSHA believes that 100 percent of all ladder accidents could be prevented if proper attention to equipment and climber training were provided
  • Over the last 10 years, the number of ladder-related injuries has increased 50 percent
  • According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50 percent of all ladder-related accidents were due to individuals carrying items as they climbed
  • The most common type of ladder-related injury, with 32 percen, is fractures

Ladder accidents are extremely common even though they are entirely preventable. Ladder accidents can occur as a result of a wide variety of issues, but the following four causes account for the vast majority. If these simple loss-prevention tips for each cause are followed, then ladder accidents could almost be eliminated.

1. Selecting the Wrong Type of Ladder
Each ladder is designed to support a maximum weight limit, and if the climber exceeds that limit, the ladder could break and cause the user to fall or become injured. There are three basic types of ladders:

  • Type III — Household, light duty, load capacity of 200 lbs.
  • Type II — Commercial, medium duty, load capacity of 225 lbs.
  • Type I — Industrial, heavy-duty, load capacity of 250 lbs.
  • For extra-heavy duty work, such as roofing and construction, there is the Type IA with a 300-lb. rating. The strongest type of ladder is the Type IIA (holding 375 lbs.) for special duty, such as heavy industrial construction work.

2. Using Worn or Damaged Ladders
Another common contributing factor to ladder accidents is the use of old, worn or damaged ladders. Thoroughly inspect each ladder before using it. If any damage is found, do not use the ladder until it has been safely repaired to the manufacturer’s specifications or it has been replaced.

3. Incorrect Use of Ladders
Human error is by far the leading cause of ladder accidents. Never use a ladder in any other way than what the manufacturer intended it to be used for. Important use tips include the following:

  • Do not lengthen or alter a ladder in any way.
  • Maintain three points of contact (feet and hands) at all times.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes.
  • Do not carry anything while climbing a ladder.
  • No more than one person on ladder at a time.
  • Always face the ladder when ascending or descending.
  • Do not climb higher than the third rung on extension ladders or the second rung on stepladders.
  • Never try to move a ladder while standing on it.

4. Incorrect Placement of Ladders
Follow these tips for correct placement of ladders.

  • Place the ladder on level and firm ground.
  • Ladders should never be placed in front of a door that is not locked, blocked or guarded.
  • If possible, have a helper support the base while using a ladder.
  • The feet of the ladder can be staked if you are using a ladder outside and no one is available to support the feet of the ladder.
  • Do not use a ladder that is too short for the necessary height.
  • Do not place the ladder on something to extend its reach.
  • Use a 1:4 ratio in placement of the ladder: Place the ladder base 1 ft away from the surface it is leaning against for every 4 ft of height to the point where the ladder contacts at the top.
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What You Need to Know About Ladder Safety

Inspector on LadderEvery year, hundreds of people fall from ladders while hanging holiday decorations, and many people hang their holiday decorations in the fall to avoid hanging them in the cold and snow of winter. You may think you know how to safely use a ladder, but here’s a review, based on an article by CPSC Blogger:

  • Select the proper ladder for the job. It should extend at least 3 feet over the roofline or working surface.
  • Place the ladder on level, firm ground. Use leg levelers on soft or uneven ground, and have someone hold the ladder at the ground.
  • Check the ladder’s maximum load rating to be sure it can support your weight.
  • Make sure that straight and adjustable ladders have slip-resistant feet.
  • Straight, single and adjustable ladders should be set at a 75-degree angle.
  • Use wood or fiberglass ladders — not metal — near electrical wires or equipment.
  • Make sure all rung locks and spreader braces are set and work properly.
  • Watch out for doors. Keep ladders away from doors that may swing open.
  • Only one person should be on the ladder at a time.
  • Keep your body centered on the ladder — don’t lean to one side or the other.
  • Do not stand on the top three rungs of a straight, single or adjustable ladder.
  • Do not use the top step/bucket shelf of the ladder.
  • Never leave a ladder that’s been set up unattended, as this could be a hazard for children and pets.
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Working With and Around Lead Paint: Part III in a Series on Lead

Submitted by Rodney Twyford, NPI Franchise Owner, San Antonio, Texas

Lead IIFederal EPA Laws (RRP)
If you own a home built before 1978 and plan to renovate for resell, or if you are a contractor who has been hired to perform work on a home built before 1978, then there are federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laws that went into effect in April 2010. This regulation is called the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Program and requires contractors to follow the RRP rules if they disturb more than 6 square feet of interior paint or 20 square feet of exterior paint.

The older your home, the more likely it contains lead-based paint. For example, 87 percent of homes built before 1940 have some lead-based paint, while 24 percent of homes built between 1960 and 1978 have some lead-based paint.

Lead-based paint may be present in private single-family homes or apartments, government-assisted, or public housing, and in urban, suburban or rural settings. The EPA recommends that you assume your pre-1978 home contains lead-based paint and take the appropriate precautions. The simplest and safest approach is to hire a certified professional to check for lead-based paint. A certified risk assessor can conduct a risk assessment that will tell you whether your home currently has any lead hazards from lead in paint, dust or soil. The risk assessor can also tell you what actions to take to address any hazards. For help finding a certified risk assessor or inspector, call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

A number of lead test kits are available for consumer purchase in most retail hardware stores; however, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that consumers should exercise caution when using these test kits to evaluate consumer products for potential lead exposures. The EPA has recognized three test kits, but recognition only applies for use by Lead-Safe Certified renovators. As of Sept. 1, 2010, the EPA will continue to recognize 3M LeadCheck™, the State of Massachusetts lead test kit, and the newly recognized D-Lead® kit.

Hiring a Renovation Firm
When hiring a renovation firm, confirm the firm’s EPA certification, and request proof that at least one person supervising your project completed certified training in lead-safe practices. Before any work begins, the contractor must provide you with the EPA’s “Renovate Right” lead hazard pamphlet. Be wary if they don’t do this on their own.

Here is an example of the precautions that should be followed:

  • The contractor must completely contain the work area in plastic sheeting.
  • Furniture should be moved out or completely covered.
  • Doors, windows and heating/cooling vents should be sealed off.
  • Pets and nonworkers must be prevented from entering the work area.
  • For exterior jobs, plastic sheeting must extend at least 10 feet in all directions from the point where paint is disturbed.
  • If the work takes place within 10 feet of the property line, then extra precautions, such as vertical containment, must be used to protect neighbors.
  • Any grinding, scraping or sanding must be done with tools equipped with a shroud and HEPA vacuum attachment.
  • Wet sanders and misters should be used to minimize dust.
  • No open-flame burning or torching is allowed, and heat guns cannot be used at temperatures higher than 1,100 degrees.
  • The contractor must properly clean the work site daily, taking special care before removing the plastic, use a HEPA vacuum to clean all dust and debris and wet-wipe and wet-mop all surfaces.

Do-it-Yourselfers
Although the RRP rule does not apply to homeowners renovating, repairing or painting their own homes, do-it-yourself projects can easily create dangerous lead dust. Protect your family and home setup safely, control the dust, and clean up completely.

Follow these safeguards to prevent lead dust from spreading throughout your home:

  • Remove all furniture, area rugs, curtains, food, clothing, and other household items until cleanup is complete.
  • Items that cannot be removed from the work area should be tightly wrapped with plastic sheeting and sealed with tape.
  • Cover floors with plastic sheeting.
  • If working on a larger job, construct an airlock at the entry to the work area.
  • Turn off forced-air heating and air conditioning systems.
  • Cover vents with plastic sheeting and tape the sheeting in place with tape.
  • Close all windows in the work area.
  • If disturbing paint, when using a hand tool, spray water on lead-painted surfaces to keep dust from spreading.

Get the Right Equipment
It is important to get the right equipment to protect you and your family from lead exposure:

  • Use a NIOSH-certified disposable respirator with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, and use a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner.
  • Wet-sanding and clean up equipment.
  • Use heavy-duty plastic sheeting and heavy-duty plastic bags, tape and protective clothing. If reusable garments are used, clean work clothes and launder separately.

Consider Hiring a Certified Lead Abatement Contractor or Inspector
In light of all the necessary precautions to take when renovating a pre-1978 home, it is highly recommended to hire a certified lead abatement contractor. You can reduce the risk of lead exposure in your home by hiring a certified lead inspector to check to see whether there is lead paint in the area of your work. If lead is present, then have a trained and certified lead abatement contractor perform an abatement to remove the lead from the area before you begin work. Lead can also sometimes be found in soil, water, household dust, pottery, toys and traditional cosmetics.

For more information about lead-based paint and safety precautions that should be known before starting any home improvement projects on older homes, please visit the EPA’s website.

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Recall: Crown Boiler Home Heating Boilers

Crown Boiler Company has issued a recall for its gas-fired hot water boilers. The boilers can pose a Carbon Monoxide risk due to failure of the air pressure switch. There are several models included in the recall, please see the link below for full details.

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Recall: Cooper Crouse-Hinds Ceiling Boxes Designed to Support Ceiling Light Fixtures

Cooper Crouse-Hinds has issued a recall for its ceiling boxes that were designed to support light fixtures. The light fixtures can fall from the ceiling and become an injury hazard due to the ceiling boxes potential to crack. There are five models of these ceiling boxes included in the recall: TP16002, TP16022, TP16023, TP16122 and TP16307. If you have one of these models you can contact Cooper Crouse-Hinds to remedy the problem. Please see the link below for more details.

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Recall: Viking Side by Side Refrigerators

Viking has issued a recall for four models of its built-in side-by-side refrigerator freezers with in-door dispensers. The recalled models are: 42-inch FDSB5421D and VCSB5421D, and 48-inch FDSB5481D and VCSB5481D. There are electrical connectors that can overheat and become a fire hazard. If you have one of these models of refrigerators, contact Viking for a free, in-home repair service. Please see the link below for more details.

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Recall On APC Surge Protectors

SurgeArrest surge protectors have been recalled by APC and The CPSC.  Many models are included in the recall, see the link below for more details. The surge protectors have the potential to overheat, smoke and melt, and become a fire hazard. The recall is in effect for approximately 15 million units sold.

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Recall: Gree Dehumidifiers

Gree and the CPSC have issued a recall for dehumidifiers with several brand names and model numbers. The dehumidifiers can overheat and pose a serious fire risk. See the link below for full details on the dehumidifiers included in the recall. This recall is in effect for approximately 2.2 million units sold.

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Recall: Waterlogic Water Dispensers

Waterlogic and the CPSC have issued a recall for chiller based water dispensers. The machine’s tank can stop working, causing it to overheat and become a fire hazard. The recall is in effect for approximately 48,000 units. See the link below for model numbers and other information.

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Recall: Dolan Designs’ Light Fixtures

Dolan Designs and the CPSC have issued a recall for Ceiling Mounted Light Fixtures. The light fixtures’ wiring can degrade and has the potential to charge metal components of the unit. This can cause the light fixture to be electrically charged and become a shock and fire hazard. The recall is in effect for approximately 8,000 units sold.

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