ROSEMONT, Ill. — It’s time to put away all of the outdoor furniture and decorations, and prepare for fall clean-up. Although these chores may involve just a ladder or rake, they can lead to injuries every year.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than
500,000 ladder-related injuries and 42,369 raking-related injuries were medically treated in 2014.
As part of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) Prevent Injuries America! campaign, orthopaedic surgeons would rather prevent than treat fall clean-up injuries.
“Never underestimate the task at hand while cleaning,” said AAOS spokesperson and orthopaedic trauma surgeon Patrick Osborn, MD. “Even the most mundane or simple chores can cause strain, injury, or even a fall if not done correctly. For instance, when using a ladder, never stand on the top rung.”
The AAOS offers the following fall cleaning safety tips to help reduce injury:
- Use a comfortable rake. Select a rake that is suitable for your height and strength.
- Service equipment. Have equipment such as leaf blowers serviced before using for the first time this season.
- Inspect the ladder. Check the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs and clean off any mud or liquids that might have accumulated on the ladder.
- Properly set-up the ladder. Every ladder should be placed on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground that is uneven and watch for soft, muddy spots. The same is true for uneven flooring. Remember to always engage the ladder locks or braces before climbing. If working outside, make sure the ladder — when extended — will not hit electrical wires, tree limbs or any other obstructions.
- Remember the one-to-four rule: the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall for every four feet that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the base of the ladder should be four feet from the wall. If you are going to climb onto a roof, the ladder should extend at least three feet higher than the rooftop. And, the upper and lower sections of an extension ladder should overlap to provide stability.
- Avoid using ladders in adverse weather conditions. It’s unsafe to use ladders outside if there is rain, wind, snow, ice or some other factor that can increase the risk of slipping and falling.
- Select the right ladder for the job. If you’re washing windows inside the home, choose a step stool or utility ladder, which are often used when working at low or medium heights. Extension ladders are ideal for use outdoors to reach high places, like when cleaning the gutters on the rooftop. The weight the ladder is supporting also should never exceed its maximum load capacity.
- Move materials with caution when on the ladder. While cleaning the garage or closet, be careful when pushing or pulling items from shelves. It is easy to be thrown off-balance and fall.
- Always position the ladder closer to the work. Over-reaching or leaning too far to one side can make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder!
- Wear proper footwear. Make sure your shoelaces are tied and the soles of your shoes are free of any debris or greasy, oily or wet substances. Do not wear leather-soled shoes, as they are slippery. Pant legs shouldn't be too wide or too long.
- Be careful when climbing; get help if you need it. Be safe and ask someone to hold the ladder while you climb. Stay in the center of the ladder as you ascend, and always hold the side rails with both hands. Also, make sure that only one person climbs the ladder at a time.
More Information about the AAOS
With more than 40,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS provides educational programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions and advances the highest quality musculoskeletal care for patients, and is the authoritative source of information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related issues.
Visit AAOS, at:
Newsroom.aaos.org for bone and joint health news, stats, facts, images and interview requests.
ANationinMotion.org for inspirational patient stories, and orthopaedic surgeon tips on maintaining bone and joint health, avoiding injuries, treating musculoskeletal conditions and navigating recovery.
Orthoinfo.org for patient information on hundreds of orthopaedic diseases and conditions.