As spring has well and truly arrived and as homeowners start looking towards those DIY projects, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is urging Queenslanders to be mindful of ladder safety.
Ladders are the number one cause of DIY-related deaths and hospitalisations among consumer products, and present one of the highest risks of fall-related injuries and deaths. Men over 60 years of age are at greatest risk due to reduced mobility, flexibility and reaction time.
There were at least 276 deaths in Australia from ladder falls between 2001 and 2012, with most occurring at home.
On average, four to five Australians (mainly men over 60) die each year after falling from a ladder.
Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Sharon Simmers said nearly all ladder-related injuries could be prevented by applying simple safe use strategies.
“Be mindful of your own capabilities and don’t over extend yourself,” Ms Simmers said.
“Don’t become a statistic – it’s not worth it.”
Follow these tips for safe ladder use:
- Only ladders that meet the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1892), which sets out the requirements for the safe use and maintenance of portable ladders, should be used.
- Inspect the ladder before use to ensure it appears in good working order, free of rust or corrosion.
- Don’t use a ladder with missing or loose parts, or if is bent or warped.
- Make sure the ladder is rated for the weight you need it to carry, including your weight, the weight of tools and supplies, and any objects placed on the ladder.
- Always ensure the ladder is locked firmly into place before use and make sure it is the right height for the job.
- Leaning and reaching should be avoided – it is much safer to get down and readjust the ladder.
- Be particularly careful when using a ladder alone, and if you can, wait until others are present.
- Don’t use ladders in high winds, rain or storms.
- Don’t place the ladder in front of outward-opening doors or windows.
- Stay well clear of power lines and exposed wires.
- Wear slip-resistant shoes.
- Ensure the ladder is level, positioned on a firm surface and that nothing slippery is near the base or top contact points.
- Only allow one person on a ladder at a time.
- Maintain three points of contact at all time while on the ladder. Use two hands when climbing. When using a tool, make sure both feet and your other hand are secure on the ladder.
Ladder-related falls in Australia accounted for 44,985 hospitalisations over the ten year period from 2002-2012, with 44% of these occurring in the home environment.
The number of injuries in the 60 plus age group has more than doubled over this ten year period.
The figures for Queensland are just as alarming, with 4,677 hospitalisations following a ladder related injury between 2005 and 2010.
Any products suspected of being unsafe can be reported to OFT at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
For more information on product safety visit www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or see this website.