Dec 06 2017

Taking steps to avoid a ladder mishap this holiday season

Posted by TransCanada
Protect yourself from a fall this holiday season

What would you consider an acceptable distance to fall? It's a question worth asking yourself before you get out your step ladder and start hanging up Christmas lights and other decorations this holiday season.

The problem with a ladder is that it doesn't make a terrifying noise when you use it, and there's no spinning blade or flying debris to evoke an immediate sense of danger. But that ladder leaning quietly against the wall in your garage may be one of the most hazardous tools you'll ever touch.

A life-saving equation

It's all because of this little equation: (2×height×9.81)

Just supply the height that you might fall from, and the equation will provide your speed of impact. This handy Free Fall Calculator will take care of all the math and units for you.

The free fall calculator is a great way to understand exactly what's at stake as soon as you take a few steps up a ladder. For example, if you fall from one of those little four-foot step ladders, you'll hit the ground at about 18 km/h (11 mph). That's an all-out sprint for many of us, so if you imagine running full speed into a brick wall, you start to get an idea of how harmful a "short" fall could be.

If you need to go a bit higher—to hang some Christmas lights up for instance—you're now looking at travelling close to 30 km/h (20 mph) at impact. Watch a bus going through a school zone and ask yourself what it'd be like to be hit by it if the driver didn't so much as tap the brakes. It may cause you to pause.

Safety is our top priority

That's the intention of this article: to encourage you to pause before you go up on that ladder this season. Ladder injuries always spike in the winter because of the number of people decorating for the holidays, and it’s all too easy to climb a few rungs and forget that you've given yourself enough potential energy to cause serious injury.

A key component of TransCanada’s strategy to keep health and safety top-of-mind around-the-clock, is our commitment to a positive safety culture. That’s why we constantly reinforce safe practices, whether it be on our work sites or at home hanging Christmas lights. This holiday season, click before you climb. Read over the resources below to brush up on basic safety guidelines that could save your life or prevent a serious injury.

TransCanada Occupational Health and Safety

Ladder Safety

Protect yourself from a fall this holiday season