Ladder Safety

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I was just skimming through my first book, Home Inspection Lessons, and I came across a larger article on what ladders are right for Home Inspectors. There was a story I told in the book about some accidents I had on ladders and I thought I should share it here as when it comes to ladders, safety has to come first.

Personal Mis-Fortunes

I've had the mis-fortune of having three ladder accidents over the years. The first was on a 4' step ladder when I was 18 working on a construction site. I was in hurry and put the ladder on uneven ground, then I overreached to access my work and I came crashing down (yes, you can crash down from 4' in the air, trust me). Physically I had some bumps and bruises but I learned one lesson that day which stuck with me about ladders. 

My second ladder accident was also when I was about 18 and was much more serious and resulted in emergency surgery. While trying to erect a 30+ foot extension ladder with a co-worker, the ladder collapsed and caught my hand and fingers in the crossing steps. It was about 3 months before I was able to move my left index finger again. These long ladders should have safety devices to prevent this type of collapse but my employer had removed them so the ladders fit on the truck better. My co-worker and I knew these safety devices were not in place and if I was older and wiser, we never should have tried using it.

My last mis-hap was decades later, just after I bought a new collapsable ladder. I was only up a few feet looking at a low carport roof during a home inspection but I had not made sure the locks were in on one rung and the ladder collapsed one rung nearly sending me off.  Fortunately, I had the suggested 36” of clearance at the roof and other than a scare, I was safe and am again wiser.

Final Thoughts

More than 20 years later, I still have a crooked index finger with only 90-95% mobility from the extension ladder incident when I was 18. I eventually taught myself to play the guitar which was a big help for motion therapy however I know I have some limits I will never overcome.

There should be no compromises when it comes to ladder safety. Always use the right equipment for the job and if in doubt, don’t take your chances. You don’t want to find yourself being an example to others.


By James Bell - Owner Solid State Inspections Inc.


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