Ladder falls in the home increase

woman painting a wall while reaching off a ladder

Alice Piper

Posted May 30, 2022


With more than 50,000 falls from ladders each year resulting in a trip to hospital, experts say it’s time for Victorians to take ladder safety more seriously. 

New data from Monash University has revealed an increase in hospital visits and admissions from falls in the home involving ladders, as Victorians turned to DIY home maintenance tasks during the state’s pandemic lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. 
 
Between 2016-2021, an average of 50,000 victims of ladder falls of less than one metre, and 4,000 victims of ladder falls of more than one metre, presented to hospital emergency departments each year in Victoria. Falls involving ladders also recorded the largest percentage increase in hospital admissions for the 2020/21 period, underlining the severity of the injuries sustained. 

RACV Policy Lead – Safety Elvira Lazar says these figures show a complacency among Victorians when it comes to home maintenance tasks involving ladders and the required steps needed to keep safe.  

“People taking on tasks from a height need to make sure they are capable and have positioned their ladder safely,” she says. “Because even a small trip or a stumble can result in an injury.” 

“What this data shows is Victorians are simply not taking their safety into account as much as they should be,” Lazar says. 

With many chores and tasks around the home like cleaning gutterschanging lightbulbs, and trimming hedges almost always involving the use of a ladder, RACV Head of Home Trades and Services Kieran Davies says some jobs are better off left to trained professionals.  

“If the job requires specialist equipment, training or a licence, is dangerous or you think may be beyond your skill or physical ability, you should get a professional,” Davies says.  

“It’s really important to be honest with yourself about your equipment, abilities and importantly your age. If you’re unsure or don’t feel comfortable completing the task, call in a professional. Even if it’s a job you used to do yourself, it’s really just not worth the risk.” 

woman climbing a ladder with gardening equipment

When taking on a task at height, always make sure the ladder is positioned correctly. Image: Getty.


Essential ladder safety tips 

While professional help for bigger jobs is recommended, you may find yourself doing the odd DIY project at home, and if so, Davies says having the right ladder for the job is paramount.  
 
“Make sure you have the right ladder for the job - it needs to be standards approved and in good working order including working safety locks and non-slip feet,” he says. “It also needs to be the right height and weight rating for the job you are using it for. 
 
Another important safety tip is to ensure you have a someone helping you. Another set of eyes on the task can mitigate against the unexpected, or help out if the position of the ladder needs to change.  

“It is always safer to have someone else with you to hold and support the ladder, and in case of an accident,” says Davies. 
 
“Ladder positioning is also important. Ensure that you can set your ladder up somewhere that is level and won’t be knocked by doors or windows, but that is also close enough to your work area that you won’t be reaching or leaning.” 

The weather is also a major factor when it comes to ladder safety, with Davies explaining the elements should be considered carefully when working at height outside. 

“Take time to assess your job and the environment and set things up correctly,” he says. "Don't work if it’s too hot, wet or windy and make sure you are wearing appropriate non-slip footwear.” 

So, as winter sets in and those jobs like gutter cleaning, garden landscaping, and general home maintenance are calling, weigh up whether these jobs are something you can safely do yourself, or whether hiring a professional will not only give you peace of mind, but ensure your safety too. 

 

man climbing a ladder with his wife holding it steady

Always have someone holding the ladder steady when conducting home maintenance tasks at height. Image: Getty. 


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