Window Cleaning Safety
On average, each month close to 100 people in Ontario are hospitalized for a fall from a ladder. Adult males had the highest rate of injury. Injuries to the lower and upper limbs were the most common type of injuries for emergency department visits accounting for 31% and 29% of emergency department visits respectively. Specifically, fracture of the ankle, foot, knee, and lower leg were the most commonly presented injuries for emergency departments, along with fracture of the forearm and open wound of the head.
From first glance, ladders may appear to be relatively harmless, but with improper use, these useful tools can lead to serious injury. In particular, falls from ladders can lead to permanent disability or death.Several studies have found that, in comparison to other household consumer products, ladders are associated with some of the highest risks for injury and longest duration of incapacity. Information on the type of event leading up to the fall from a ladder, the height of the fall, in
addition to detailed data on the type or design of the ladder were not available. However, a fall from a small ladder, such as a step-ladder, may result in serious injury and people falling from a height of even a few feet shouldn’t be dismissed as insignificant cases. The home was noted as the place of injury occurrence for a large percentage of the cases, however we were unable to determine which settings were occupational. In addition, there were a large percentage of cases with an
unspecified location. Studies have found that most of the leisure time falls occurred at home while performing tasks such as removing snow from the roof, retrieving objects from the attic,household repairs, and window cleaning.
Managing the risk
It is important to recognize the risk in using a ladder, and to make smart choices when doing so. Public health can work with the community to promote the following tips to help reduce the risk of falling:
❖ Select an appropriate, CSA approved, ladder for the task. Check for defective equipment.
❖ Before using a ladder outdoors, choose a location that is well away from all power lines. Coming in contact with live wires can be fatal.
❖ Place ladders where access is not obstructed. E.g., Stay clear of unlocked doors.
❖ Place the ladder on level ground, where they will be free from loose or slippery substances, and open it completely, making sure all locks are engaged.
❖ Always face the ladder when climbing and wear slip-resistant shoes.
❖ Make sure rungs are dry before using the ladder.
❖ Ensure hands and feet are free from oil, grease, or other substances before climbing a ladder.
❖ Stand at or below the highest safe standing levelon a ladder. For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top, and for an extension ladder, it’s the fourth rung from the top.
❖ Move the ladder as necessary to avoid overreaching. If your belt buckle crosses either side of the ladder you are reaching too far.
❖ The distance from the feet of an extension ladder to the wall should be no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the height on the wall it is reaching.