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Old Houses and Ladder Safety: Avoid Taking the Fast Way Down

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old House Inspection, Old Houses, Old House Musings, In The News

I happened upon a scene today that brought back a lot of bad memories; the misuse of ladders while working on a home. I worked in the residential and commercial construction field for many years, and it was a never ending battle keeping unsafe equipment off the job site.

No Halfway Repaired Antique Ladders Please

No Halfway Repaired Antique Ladders Please

Sub-contractors constantly showed up with frayed extension cords, unsafe power tools and faulty ladders either because they didn’t know any better or because their bosses didn’t want to foot the bill for new equipment. Using damaged equipment or good equipment improperly while working on a home can not only be extremely dangerous, but there can also be sizable fines involved if someone from Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) happens by.

I use ladders a lot while working on my own old house and so far–knock on wood–I have never had an accident. I attribute that to using equipment that’s in good condition, using it safely, and having a good understanding of what can happen if I get careless while working; that sudden stop after falling 30 feet might sting a little. If you have any questions about how to use a ladder safely while working on your old house, visit the OSHA website and spend a little time reading.

An Unattended Ladder Left Standing is an Accident Waiting to Happen

An Unattended Ladder Left Standing is an Accident Waiting to Happen

At the very least you should make sure your ladders are in good condition, sized properly and always make sure the top and bottom are stable before climbing. When working, you should always keep a grip on the ladder with at least one hand and never try to stretch beyond your normal range; get down and raise the ladder or move it left or right so you can easily reach your work area. And from the personal experience file; be careful when using a pressure washer on a ladder as the force can knock you off balance in a heartbeat.

More Old House Holiday Cheer

November is quickly approaching and I’m seeing more old house holiday tours you can add to the list from the last post. Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas are hosting a series of tours beginning November 21 and continuing through the first part of December. The highlights for old house enthusiasts appear to be the Victorian house tours December 11-13. The Palo Alto Stanford Heritage Holiday House Tour in California is scheduled for December 12 and the 44th annual Mill Hill Holiday House tour in historic Trenton, New Jersey, is scheduled for December 4. If you happen to be lucky enough to be spending the holidays in Key West, the Old Island Restoration Foundation has their 51st annual series of historic house tours scheduled from December though March.

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  1. 4 Responses  to “Old Houses and Ladder Safety: Avoid Taking the Fast Way Down”

  2. Aug 29, 2011
    So unsafe to leave ladders against a wall like that.
  3. Aug 29, 2011
    Old ladders, wood or cheap aluminum should be cut up and made unusable on the site. It will save someone else who may be taking a short cut from injury. I have experienced injury from using old ladders in the past. Yes, I also agree that scaffolding/staging is the right way to do any large project, but safety must also be observed there also, the OSHA guidelines and manufacturer's safety instructions are for your benefit. I know of several local contractors who have been severely injured, one is a parapalegic for life.
  4. Jonny
    Aug 29, 2011
    I find the safest way to use a ladder, is to set up the scaffolding! Ladders definitely have their place on a job site, but scaffolding allows you to work with both hands and move horizontally-a must if you are installing siding or painting a wall.
  5. micheal verns
    Aug 29, 2011
    Im guilty of half way repair ladders (but mine is broken from step 4 not actually middle) and I've learned my lesson the hard way...almost sprained my ankle when i fell down. This kind of post is commendable..simple yet practical, KUDOS! All Tex Exteriors