Using a ladder to hang pictures and decorations, change a light bulb, clean gutters, or trim overhanging tree branches is much safer than using a chair or other makeshift booster. However, every year thousands of emergency room visits – and even deaths – are caused by ladder-related accidents. Here are some issues to avoid:

  • Overreaching: Leaning too far to the side or climbing too high on the rungs.
  • “Walking the Ladder”: A dangerous practice where a ladder user decides to try to move a ladder while standing on it. The user stays atop the ladder and attempts to shuffle the ladder’s legs to the desired position.
  • Inappropriate Ladder Type: Pay attention to a ladder’s ratings. Duty ratings define the load-bearing weight of ladders. They are designed to support one person plus materials and tools.
  • Insecure Footing: Check that ladders have secure footing. This helps prevent slippage and tilting.
  • Electrical Dangers: If you are working on or near electrical lines, use nonconductive wood or fiberglass ladders.
  • Adjustable Ladders: If using an extension ladder, step ladder, or multi-use articulating or telescoping ladders, make sure all latches are locked in place before stepping on the ladder and use extreme care when closing to avoid injury to fingers or hands.

Remember, when in doubt, always consult a professional. More home safety information and maintenance information is available online at