I write this week’s article based on a personal experience that hopefully none of your families will ever endure. A lot of holiday decorating is going on both in and outside your homes. Gutters are being cleaned, windows washed, etc. This week I want to address the subject of safely working at heights. My doctor tells me you can break a hip falling from a height as little as two feet. The impact of a fall can be devastating.
I speak from experience having just recently celebrated the one year anniversary of a fall of my own. I was doing something simple early on a Friday evening shortly after arriving home from work. We had just had our leaves cleaned up that day getting ready for winter. I have gutter guards to eliminate the need for gutter cleaning but there are a couple valleys that accumulate leaves and I went up to quickly clean them out to finish the task. I went up on my porch roof about 10 feet off the ground, walked to the valley, bent over to clean it out, stood up to walk back to the ladder and that is the last thing I remember. I blacked out a fell to the sidewalk below, breaking my back, damaging my spinal cord taking out my legs. My wife prevented me from trying to get up when I came to or I would be paralyzed. Some great surgical work and rehab have returned most use of my legs but things will never be the same; not playing golf or riding my bike. The doctors still don’t know why I blacked out. It could have been something as simple a blood sugar levels since I had not eaten in a while. This was a task I had performed many times with out incident. I have been told how fortunate I am to be alive.
The message I want to pass on to all of you is life can change in an instant. Let the professionals that do these things for a living work at heights. Even after my experience I still have friends that go up on their roofs, clean out, their gutters, etc risking their livelihood. Just think about what would happen to your family if you were not able to do your day job.
Now I also know that many of you will think that won’t happen to me. So if that is the case and you must climb make sure you use the proper equipment starting with ladders. If anyone still has an old wooden or aluminum step ladder around the house, throw it out. You know the kind I am talking about. They creak and sway as you climb them. Make sure you use a ladder properly rated for your weight. The good fiberglass ones are color coded for different load limits starting with green at 225 pounds on up through blue and orange. If you are working on uneven surfaces, they make adjustable leg extensions for ladders. Please don’t stack up items to level out the ladder. If you must get on a roof, look into a safety harness. In most industrial environments OSHA requires fall protection equipment when working more than four feet off the ground. They do that for a good reason.
You want to enjoy the holidays with your families all in one piece and healthy. Let people with the experience and proper equipment take care of your work at heights. Home Services Link can provide you with qualified people so you don’t put your livelihood at risk. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (513) 271-1888. Enjoy the holidays.