Submitted to us by Ross.
Ladders are so common we rarely consider them too deeply. You move into your new apartment and there are three old wooden ladders, paint-splattered and splintery, sitting in the bedroom closet for no knowable reason. At the house you grew up in there’s an ancient ladder made from dark wood and brass passed down, apparently, from your great-grandfather. Ladders are everywhere, so common that no one ever considers the fact that ladders can, under the right kind of softheaded abuse, be the most dangerous things you’ll ever use, with the possible exception of a circular saw.
There are many ways these devices can harm you, but to be fair almost all of them involve one thing in common: User error.
1. Hopping. Ah yes, you’re on the ladder, you’re finished with this part of the project. You look over wistfully at the next thing in need of paint, or a fresh nail or screw. So near! And yet, out of reach. But you don’t want to climb down, walk the ladder over a few feet, and then climb back up using your legs like some sort of sucker. This is the moment where the fierce independents amongst us decide that all that hogwash about safety is for the Common Man, not you, and you decide to hop the ladder. This involves grabbing hold of it with both hands and through a combination of gravity and momentum getting the ladder to scrape along the floor until it is in a new position. Genius!
Until you overbalance and end up under the ladder, bleeding from a head wound, of course.
2. Overreaching. Sometimes the next bit is so temptingly close, you know that if you just lean out a little bit, maybe swinging one leg over to the outside, and you can do it and be a hero! This is a prized move for those of us who slept our way through our science courses in school and thus have an imperfect understanding of mass, gravity, and friction.
3. Standing on the Top or Shelf. First of all, why provide you with that tempting shelf if it’s not meant to be used as a quick step to enable you to get a little closer to the wall? Those engineers are just cruel pranksters, really. The fact that the word shelf is universally accepted to mean not a step doesn’t factor, really. And the top is, technically a step! It’s sturdy, and just because keeping your balance on it is impossible doesn’t mean you shouldn’t climb up there, proud, brave, and five seconds away from a concussion.
4. Ladders in Multiples. We salute you, geniuses of the world, for sussing out that if none of your ladders are tall enough you can duct-tape two ladders together and conquer the skies! Later, when you are applying direct pressure to the gash in your head you can regale the hospital staff with Tales of True Genius and they will all go home and head out into the workshop to regard their own ladders with a newfound excitement.
5. Failure to Lock. You’re busy. Life goes by fast, and who has time for social niceties like wearing pants in public or making sure your A-frame ladder is locked in position? Just pull it mostly open and get to work. Those fools who bother to check things like locked hinges on ladders get their work done five seconds slower, and without the thrill of knowing they have cheated Death’s Younger Cousin, Grievous Injury, once again!
As you can see, all of these accidents have one thing in common: You. The vast majority of ladders leave the factory in perfectly fit condition, ready to serve you safely for years – if you avoid these five common mistakes.