News from 555 Gearhart Road: Be wary of dangers with ladders

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Are you ready to tackle some work around the home that involves a ladder? Or scaffolding? If so, caution should be used, said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview.

Over the past 10 years, said Lenhart, ladder and scaffolding injuries have increased by 50 percent. There are 90,000 injuries treated at emergency rooms throughout the United States.

“Most of the injuries occur on construction sites or when you or I are painting at home,” said Lenhart. “Ladder accidents are common and preventable.”

Lenhart, who talked with a friend of his, Tom Finkenbine, who works in the construction field, shared thoughts they both have in common about ladder and scaffolding accidents.

“He’s the expert,” said Lenhart. “I got some of my information from him.”

Selecting the wrong type of ladder, said Lenhart, can lead to accidents.

“Ladders have weight limits,” said Lenhart. “So if you weigh 200 pounds, you wouldn’t want to by a ladder that had a weight limit of 150 pounds.

“When some people use a ladder they tend to carry things up with them that they will need, whether is a paint can or hammer,” he said. “You should have someone hand the items up to you once you’re on the ladder.”

The ladder or scaffolding, said Lenhart, is sometime placed on ground that isn’t solid or level.

“I’ve seen a person on a 40-foot ladder that’s old and then they lean over with a 40-foot of cable. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Lenhart said if a rung on a wooden ladder is broken, the ladder should be replaced. Never, he said, replace the rung or step by nailing a piece of wood on the spot.

Aluminum ladders, he said, are safer than a wooden ladder.

“You should always have three contacts with the ladder to ensure stability,” said Lenhart. “Make sure the legs are solid on the ground. If the ladder is leaning against a wall, make sure both legs of the later are on the ground.

“If the ground is wet, the ladder will start to move,” he said. “Make sure the ground level is firm. Never place the ladder in front of a door because someone could walk out and hit the ladder.”

He said a person on the ladder should also be aware of the electric lines in the area he’s working in.

“If you’re using a power tool or saw, those items can also get you into trouble,” he said.

Scaffolding, he said, should follow the same rules as working on a ladder.

“If it is unstable, it can overturn,” he said. “If you lose control of the tool you’re working with, it could fall and hit someone.

“If it’s wet or dusty, your footing may not be stable,” he said. “You should always wear a hard hat and wear shoes — not flip flops. Inspect the ladder and scaffolding every time you use it.”

Weather also plays a factor when working on a ladder.

“If it rains or you see lightening in the distance, you’ll become a lightening rod,” said Lenhart.

And when the weather turns bad, it’s time to go in and relax until the storm passes.

Lenhart also took time to discuss the Shelby County Fair, which ended Saturday.

“I’d like to compliment every one who attended the Shelby County Fair,” said Lenhart. “There was little or no problems during the fair. The weather was great and it was enjoyable to be out there.”

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.