Fall is here and that brings fall projects and fall clean-up. Every year, thousands of Americans are injured in fall clean-up activities including back strains from raking leaves and sprains and broken bones from falling off ladders or roofs while cleaning gutters or windows. In 2010, more than 35,500 people were injured using a stepladder and 532,000 were injured in falls from ladders.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) encourages people to take the proper safety precautions to reduce the number of fall clean-up related accidents this season.
Fall Clean-Up Safety Tips:
- It is best to wait until the majority of the leaves have fallen to do one big fall clean-up. Spot cleaning tends to lead to carelessness and injuries.
- Raking a large yard is vigorous exercise! Warm your body up for at least 10 minutes with some stretching and light exercise before you start.
- Choose a rake that is comfortable for your height and strength. Purchase a heavier, ergonomic rake if possible. The lighter the rake, the more energy you will actually need to use to gather the piles.
- Wear lightweight clothes warm enough to prevent being cold but cool enough to avoid trapping sweat. Shoes should be supportive and comfortable, and should have slip-proof soles in case you walk across a patch of wet leaves.
- To prevent blisters, wear gloves or use rakes with padded handles. You should also vary your movement, alternating your leg and arm positions often.
- To prevent a back injury, do not overfill leaf bags. Never carry or throw a bag over your shoulder or to the side as the twisting motion places undue stress on your back. When you pick up the bag of leaves, separate your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your back straight. To lift, bend at the knees while tightening your stomach and leg muscles. If you are worried that the bag is too heavy or awkward to lift on your own then ask for help!
- Choose the right ladder for the job. A step ladder is meant for washing windows and other jobs at low or medium heights. An extension ladder is appropriate for cleaning high places, such as the gutters.
- Before use, inspect the ladder for loose screws, hinges or rungs. Clean off accumulated mud, dirt or liquids.
- Before you climb a ladder, make sure all ladder locks and safety braces are in place.
- Never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven, soft, or wet; choose a firm surface.
- Use a sturdy step stool instead of a counter or furniture when cleaning high, hard to reach places.
- When working on a ladder, do not lean so far that your bellybutton has gone beyond the edge of the ladder. Climb down the ladder and reposition it closer to your work area if necessary.
- Never climb a ladder without a spotter.
- Never sit or stand on the top of a step ladder or pail shelf as these areas weren’t designed to hold heavy weights.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!