Thousands of ladder related injuries occur each year and many of these injuries are fatal. In many of these cases the attic ladder (known as the “pull down stairs”) is involved. Often the attic stairs are poorly maintained or poorly installed.
Before you climb the stairs make sure you do the following:
- Check to make sure the stairs have no loose hardware, i.e.., nuts and bolts.
- Make sure the treads are not cracked.
- Make sure the ladder reaches the ground and is fully extended.
- Make sure it is properly installed.
Each manufacturer has carefully engineered installation instructions that accompany each ladder. All too often the instructions are ignored.
Here are a few of the instructions you should look out for:
- Certain fasteners are required, usually either 16D nails or 1/4” lag bolts. Drywall screws are an unacceptable fastener because they do not have the correct shear strength.
- The number of nails or lag bolts are specified.
- The bottom of the ladder should be trimmed to match the angle of the floor.
- There should be an adequate deck for you to stand on at the top of the stairs.
Finally, a few bits of advice:
- Always have one hand free to hold onto the handrail.
- Keep your weight centered over the stairs and do not lean backward.
- Keep your weight centered on the stairs between the rails.
- Do not over load the stairs with too much weight.
- Do not let children walk up the stairs.