top of page

Ladder safety key in outside chores

There’s nothing like gorgeous weather to energize and invigorate us to head to the garden and take on those pesky outside chores.

Last week we talked about the importance of calling 811 before you dig. Are you planning a major planting or removal of a big bush or tree, a home improvement project like a new fence or even some key home repairs like a new water or sewer line?

When you call 811 two business days before you dig, all the key underground utilities are located for you so that you can avoid harm to them – not to mention you and your house. This service is done at no cost to you unless you didn’t call and cut something important!

But this week we’re asking you to look up and become aware of what’s ahead of you if your chores are overhead.


Whatever chore that takes you up on an extension ladder opens you to one of the most common causes of severe fall trauma. People tend to lean out too far to one side or another which can make the ladder slide sideways and down you go!

But let’s start at the bottom of the ladder, first. Safety begins with solid, level ground for each of the ladder’s legs. Sometimes you have to modify the

grade to create a safer platform. It’s better to dig into the ground and bury a leg than building up a tippy platform.

Test the ladder from the lower rungs and then all the way up. Your spouse and neighbors would think you were brilliant if you tied the ladder off to the house, too!

An extension ladder leaning on a smooth gutter is one of the worst scenarios leading to DIY injuries and death. Again, our arms are too short to clean out gutters efficiently which makes us lean out further to the side than we should and who’s prepared when the ladder slides down the gutter? So besides using a tool to extend our reach, there is one tool that can prevent ladder falls altogether if you place it correctly in the first place.

A ladder stand-off device is waiting for you at your local hardware store. It’s a great gift and even that four-year-old at the bottom of the ladder, who depends on you for everything, could have easily attached this device to the top of daddy’s ladder before he bravely ascended. When used properly, it could save the whole family from a remaining life of misery.

Step ladders, especially short ones with nothing to hold onto, are just as dangerous.

Three legged ladders are safer than four particularly on rough ground, but each leg of any ladder must be firmly embedded on hard surface. An adult helper holding onto the ladder is a good practice and so is getting the next size ladder when you really need to get up onto the last two rungs. Standing on the top rung of the ladder is just plain stupid and nobody will feel sorry for you!


The electrical mast on the roof of each house is not something to be toyed with. Whether you are repairing or cleaning the roof, washing or painting your house or even just doing some tree-trimming, be aware of that mast and the electrical wires it supports.

Like digging in the ground, if you know you will be working near the overhead electrical mast or perhaps trimming or falling trees that could touch it, first call the Grays Harbor Public Utility 360-532-4220. The service dispatcher will make the arrangements resulting in a PUD crew onsite to determine the safest approach for wires in the way.


Next week we’ll have some more tips on safety when dealing with tree trimming and give you the PUD’s suggestions for what trees to plant near powerlines.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.

Featured Posts
Search By Tags
bottom of page