Ladders are a wonderful invention.  They are probably as old as man.  They are also a very dangerous tool.  A purely non-scientific and mostly anecdotal conclusion I have reached is that ladders probably cause more injuries than any other piece of equipment in existence.


I imagine there are many books of rules regarding ladder safety.  Each ladder manufacturer has a set of rules.  Probably each individual state safety agency has a set of rules.  There is the national occupational safety organization.   And I suppose even testing organizations have their books of rules.


One of the rules I see often that still puzzles me to this day, is the one that says you are not to stand one rung less than two feet from the top of the ladder.  –  How do you use a two foot ladder?


There is an expression that used to puzzle me; “chicken ladder.”  Then came the time I used a chicken ladder.  It was a ladder nailed down to a roof.  I could see where the expression came from.  It is built like a chicken roost; the term is not to imply that you’re afraid to use it.


Of course the look of a chicken ladder reminded me of an old story about Native Americans on a hill overlooking the building of the first transcontinental railroad.  Their comment was, “Crazy White Man, build ladder on ground.”


I recall hearing of a man that was using a ladder while working on a high sign.  He fell off and landed on the cement sidewalk.  He survived but was crippled the rest of his life.


I had one bad experience with a ladder.  I was working in an area where the cement floor had been “cured” using an oil, making the floor less abrasive than normal.  A lean-to ladder is supposed to be tied off top and bottom.  Foolishly I had failed to do this.  I was in a hurry.


The ladder slipped away from the wall it was leaning on and I fell.  I managed to land on my feet on the concrete floor.  Fortunately, no bones were broken but both of my ankles were sprained.  They were sore for a month.


My father was an expert “ladder faller offer.”  When he was picking fruit in an orchard, with constant use of ladders, if he fell he would roll up tight like a ball as he left the ladder.


Of late, my son David has acquired the name of “Ladder Rider.”  One time he was up on an extension ladder removing and relocating an overhead service.  The service was attached to a 6×6 treated post.  In the midst of the job, while he was at the top of the post, the post broke about 5 feet high out of the ground.  The upper part of the post came down.  The ladder came down.  And David came down.  Fortunately the top part of the post went one direction and the ladder, with David on it, went another.  Neither contacted the sharp end of the post coming out of the ground.  He landed with his feet on the side rails of the ladder, spanning a ditch, jumped off and looked at me like “see there?”


I think the same principle must apply to speed skaters when they fall.  Speed skaters don’t get broken bones as often as you would expect.  When you are moving fast you don’t hit the bottom hard.  You actually skid along.


Personally I have decided that using a bucket truck lift is safer and quicker.