Take care when using ladders this spring

Monday 30 September

With warmer spring weather making minor home repairs more tempting, South Australians are being reminded to take care when using ladders following a spike in the number of ladder-related injuries.

Co-Chair of the South Australian Trauma System, Nicole Kelly, said in 2018 there were 215 adults treated in Major Metropolitan Hospitals for serious injuries as a result of ladder-related falls.

“Ladder-related accidents, particularly among men aged 50 years and older, are a significant cause of major injuries and even death in Australia,” Ms Kelly said.

“Most of the ladder-related injuries we see occur around the home, with the warmer weather encouraging people to get outside and take on minor home repairs, spring clean, or prepare their properties ahead of bushfire season by pruning trees and clearing out gutters.

“Common injuries include hip and other limb fractures, but in many cases, more serious injuries such as brain injuries, rib fractures, spinal injuries and even death can occur as a result of a fall from ladders.

“To prevent falls it is important to make sure the ladder is the right height for the job, has non-slip feet, is in good working order and is positioned to sit flat and firm on the ground.

“Best practice for working on a ladder is to wear non-slip footwear, maintain grip on the ladder with at least one hand at all times, work within arm’s reach of the ladder, and safely reposition the ladder if you need to reach something.

“It is also a good idea to check your surroundings before climbing up the ladder as power lines or exposed wires near the ladder can be dangerous, and ladders should not be used in bad weather such as rain, wind or thunder and lightning storms.” 

People who are home alone, are not physically well enough to use a ladder safely, have health conditions or are taking medications are at higher risk of injury from ladder falls, so it is important to consider alternative options for home maintenance.

“We encourage people at risk of injury to ask for assistance from a family member, neighbour or friend when doing home maintenance, or to hire a maintenance person where possible,” Ms Kelly said.

“You may also be eligible to seek assistance with home maintenance through your local council, My Aged Care, or disability support services.”

For further information and advice on how to minimise the risk of a fall, visit the SA Health Ladder Safety Information Page