According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “each year there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the U.S. relating to ladders.” One of the more precarious tasks done on a ladder is cleaning gutters. When you clean gutters your ladder is on uneven ground and the work is messy and awkward. Yet, it needs to be done! Clogged gutters lead to many problems including ice dams, moisture damage, leaks, and slippery walkways. Your gutters are designed to keep moisture away from your house and if you let them become clogged the gutters cannot do their job and may actually make things worse.
Maine Coast Construction’s Handymen have been cleaning gutters on various homes in the MidCoast for years and have the following safety advice:
- Always have a spotter to hold the ladder steady.
- Never walk under a ladder (not only is it bad luck, but it is unsafe as well).
- You should never stand on the very top rungs of the ladder therefore your ladder should extend at least 3 feet over the roofline. *
- Your ladder should be set up 1 foot out from the base for every 4 feet of vertical rise.**
- Check all the locks on your extension ladder before ascending. *
- Do not set up your ladder near passageways. If you must place the ladder in front of a door, make sure the door is blocked so no one tries to open it from the inside. Also lock the door so it cannot open on its own*
- Do not lean too far from the center of the ladder while working. *
- Do not try to shimmy or hop your ladder over to the next section! Get off the ladder and move it when it is time.
- Always maintain 3 points of contact when climbing a ladder (for example: 2 hands, 1 foot).**
- Do not use a metal ladder around anything electric including power lines and equipment. (1)
- There’s no shame in having your gutters cleaned professionally! It is always better to be safe than sorry and having the job done by a professional means having the job done right.
For more safety tips, please visit: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/ladder.html
Maine Coast Construction has been custom-building, renovating and restoring fine homes and commercial buildings in Mid-Coast Maine since 1968. For updates on Maine Coast Construction’s latest projects in the Mid Coast, please visit www.mainecoastconstruction.com
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*Consumer Product Safety Commission: CPSC Offers Safety Tips to Prevent Ladder Injuries, http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/ladder.html
** “Stairways and Ladders” NAHB-OSHA Jobsite Safety Handbook, Second Edition. Copyright 1999 by Home Builder Press of the National Association of Home Builders of the United States.