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Old 02-14-2015, 06:57 AM
Location: Florida
19,819 posts, read 19,916,125 times
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My brother fell off a ladder a couple of years ago and broke two ribs and his collarbone.
(He did hate telling anyone he was only on the 2nd step).
The only broken bone I've ever had was a hairline fracture that happened while (mis) stepping off a kitchen step stool.
I do admit that while I don't mind using a ladder as long as I don't have to get off it at the top. I do seem to have lost the ability to instinctively get off the roof to get back on it to descend. And it seems once you stop to think about it, you're done
That makes me reluctant to go on the roof now.
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Old 02-14-2015, 07:18 AM
Location: Mount Airy, Maryland
10,464 posts, read 5,933,005 times
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Originally Posted by Shutout View Post
I used to work on bridges over the summer... 20-30 feet above rivers, highways, etc. No fear of heights.

A couple years past since I did that job and now I get shaky around heights. We were on the 8th or 9th floor of a hotel in the city with a balcony. I couldn't step out. I kept on thinking... what if I fell? That would be it. The balcony walls were only 4 feet high... easy enough for me to just topple over and be gone forever.

I'll still climb on roofs and stuff. I'm extra cautious though... unlike when I was younger. I'm only 26 for the rcord.
Wait you worked 30 feet over a highway and get on roofs but a balcony made you nervous?

And what the Hell are you doing on a retirement board at 26?
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Old 02-14-2015, 07:44 AM
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My husband fell off a ladder over 30 years ago while pruning a tree outside. Broke his shoulder and hip. He's been nervous getting on a ladder since then.

Today I am usually the one who climbs on the ladder. I'm small (5'1" 100 lbs) so I have been climbing on things my entire life. Cannot even reach the top shelf on my kitchen cabinets without climbing on something.

My husband carries the ladder out for me and I clean the ceiling fans. High up? I HAVE to climb high up because I am so short.
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Old 02-14-2015, 08:32 AM
Location: Idaho
1,455 posts, read 1,156,015 times
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Originally Posted by Jo48 View Post
Today I am usually the one who climbs on the ladder. I'm small (5'1" 100 lbs) so I have been climbing on things my entire life.
Yes, being more nimble is probably the only advantage of being small. I have never had a fear of height and have always loved opportunity to see things at higher levels than my 5'2" frame ;-) I have been up on the roof clearing snow the last several days and the views were spectacular especially when the sun was about to set casting shimmering gold/pink light on dark tree branches against the snowy white landscape.

Regarding fear of falling, studies have shown that it is instinctive in babies. We grow up and overcome it through experience. Extreme or irrational fear of heights (acrophobia) is not common but it can be inert or caused by a bad experience. It is interesting to learn that acrophobia is more common in pilot population than the average population:

Air Safety Institute Instructor Reports

"Years ago I had a chance to chat with Chaytor Mason, a retired professor of aviation psychology at the University of Southern California. He said that the rate of acrophobia was upwards of 90 percent in some of the pilot groups he'd studied. This is pretty significant considering that acrophobia is present in only 6 to 10 percent of the general population. My own estimates indicate that the percentage of acrophobia in the general aviation pilot population is far, far higher than 6 to 10 percent. It's interesting to speculate whether flying actually attracts those with acrophobia or if it helps to breed the phenomenon. Whatever the cause and effect, the most interesting news is that a fear of heights doesn't seem to have much effect on someone's ability to become a pilot."

My recollection of an informal survey at a pilots' forum where I participated that about 20% participants admitted being acrophobia outside of the cockpit.

Back to the subject of fear of ladders in older people, I think it is our natural preservation instinct to stop doing activities which we deem to be unsafe for our current physical condition and ability. It is undeniable that as we get older, we become less flexible, less stable, frailer with less bone density, and it takes us longer to recovery than younger folks. We just have to work really hard to delay the physical degradation. I am a firm believer in the 'use it or lose it' living principle and will continue to do the things which I love to do as long as I can - with a lot of caution of course ;-)
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Old 02-16-2015, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveinMtAiry View Post
Wait you worked 30 feet over a highway and get on roofs but a balcony made you nervous?

And what the Hell are you doing on a retirement board at 26?
I'm still shaky on roofs, but I am extra cautious and do it if there's minor work to be done up there (cleaning gutters, cleaning chimney.)

And I was actually not aware this was the retirement board until now haha. Whoops. I just saw the thread on the right hand side under the recent posts.
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Old 02-16-2015, 08:11 AM
Location: St. George, Utah
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I don't think nervousness about older people (or any people) on ladders needs to be related to a phobia or "fear of heights".

I'm sure we can all share anecdotes--a coworker of mine in average shape was climbing a six-foot ladder to take down some Christmas decorations off a shelf. He fell and DIED. One does not have to fall off a 20 foot extension ladder to be badly hurt. I think that's what makes ladders so dangerous, statistically. Most people don't even have a sense of the danger until they are much higher up than one needs be to get badly hurt. Add to that, as others have noted, less perfect balance, slower reflexes, and far less bouncy bones as we age.

Falls from ladders are a (relatively speaking, as household accidents go) common household cause of serious injury or death. I would just hazard a guess that the rate of injury per use/per person is much higher than a car or a bathtub, as someone noted above.

Another friend of ours was on the roof of a single story house (having used a ladder to get up there)--perhaps 10 feet off the ground, and fell. About the same age (early 60s) as my coworker above, who died. He shattered bones, punctured a lung, dislocated the shoulder that wasn't broken.....I have no idea how he didn't die. This is a guy who has been involved in home improvement/construction his whole life.

Periodically, in my husband's line of work, someone falls off a ladder (or down a ladder) and it's always a serious injury that at the very least puts them out of work for weeks. This in spite of safety rules galore.

Our neighbor in his late seventies is always up to some home maintenance project, up on ladders alone. He is supremely competent and confident. And it makes me very nervous. Stuff happens, and it takes such a tiny movement to lose balance and fall. We all picture ourselves landing on our feet or catching ourselves with our arms/hands. Most people fall backward and land full force on back, neck, cranium.

I just think people, and not to be sexist, but older men who have been using ladder & doing projects their whole lives, tend not to recognize the danger and not be as careful as we should with ladders, and that leads to accidents. The kicker is that the accidents are worse than we realize they will be--falling "just" 6 feet or so doesn't seem so bad.

I mean, how many of us by a show of hands have stepped "ON OR ABOVE THIS STEP" knowing that "SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH MAY OCCUR", lol, without giving it a second thought? There's a reason that sticker is there. Although I'm old enough to own ladders that were made BEFORE the warning sticker was applied!!!

It may seem silly, but anyone in the worker's comp, construction, ER, or insurance business can tell you that falls from ladders are something that people don't take seriously but should.

Last edited by Montanama; 02-16-2015 at 08:40 AM..
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Old 02-16-2015, 11:09 AM
Location: Mid-Atlantic
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Originally Posted by jean_ji View Post
And agreeing with StealthRabbit: sixty year olds and over don't bounce as well as thirty year olds.
Isn't that the truth?! While I've never fallen while on a ladder, I've fallen just about everywhere else. When I was in my teens, I fell off a garage roof--that one almost killed me. In my twenties, I fell while wearing high heels and really goofed up my right ankle. I also fell while roller skating and fractured an elbow. A few years ago, I tripped on something, fell, knocked myself out and gashed my forehead. Ladders? I don't think so.

We had our roof replaced about nine years. The owner of the small, family run business came to the house to do the estimate. His son and a team did the work. Long story short, he told me that he was never going up a ladder or on a roof again because he fell and couldn't work for almost two years. He was in his late forties.
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Old 02-16-2015, 03:09 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,612 posts, read 39,986,663 times
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Originally Posted by jean_ji View Post
I worked in X-ay at a hospital and then later in MR/CT. I saw more than enough to give me a healthy respect for ladders and heights. .... With MR and CT, it was seeing them to confirm a diagnosis or to see them later when they had fractures not healing and chronic problems associated with the original fall, including paralysis and traumatic brain injuries.

There is a formula for how far the base of the extension ladder should be away from a wall in ratio to the height that I see people ignore or simply don't know about. Or else they are using the wrong type of ladder for a task. A fall from a big ladder may have more dramatic results, but a kitchen step stool/ladder can be as dangerous if not used with awareness.

I've seen lives changed in an instant with ladders, from minor inconveniences to catastrophes. Phobias over ladders aren't necessary but being mindful when being on one sure is warranted.

And agreeing with StealthRabbit: sixty year olds and over don't bounce as well as thirty year olds.
4:1 is correct ladder ratio (Height to offset at base) + 3' extension above the surface you are climbing to. for you 'seafarers' Here is a OHSA 'Ship' manual

All said and done... I was up and down extension ladders at least 20 trips this last week, and never in compliance I have been on a 12' step ladder more times this week than can be counted (Redoing a house with vaulted ceiling / fans / lights / trim / staining the beams /... I am trying to avoid setting up scaffolding (hurrying can cause me to take unnecessary risk).

Be careful.

I find I don't bounce as well during my motorcycle rides, as I did when a professional racer.

I can 'feel-it' for a few weeks when I get home.

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 02-16-2015 at 03:18 PM..
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Old 02-16-2015, 07:54 PM
12,825 posts, read 20,148,018 times
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I have no fear of heights. However the inevitability of worsening inner ear health and muscle memory makes me think about starting to rope up when I go up. I already wear a captivated hard hat when I go up.
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:47 AM
Location: Verde Valley AZ
8,618 posts, read 9,687,274 times
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Originally Posted by PhxBarb View Post
Maybe ER has the body of a 39 year old, how would we know? As for me, I am shaky just going up a 6 footer to change the air filter in the ceiling. And I have a screwdriver in my hand as well.
If it's much higher than my two level stepstool someone else gets asked to do it! lol If/when I get around to painting in my house I'll have to because the ceilings are higher than normal, but not waaay up there. Enough to require a ladder though.
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