Ladder warnings step up as injuries climb

'Tis the season to make sure ladders are secure before hanging up Christmas decorations or lights.

Injuries are known to spike over summer as Australians head into the holiday season with transport and weather-related injuries spiking, as well as drownings.

Hanging Christmas lights and cleaning gutters can be dangerous and medical professionals are warning it's important to take safety precautions before climbing up a ladder.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released a report on Friday documenting injuries in Australia in 2020-21.

'Sadly, there is a peak in hospitalisations for assault over the summer months," AIHW spokesman Adrian Webster said.

There were 1200 assault-related hospital admissions in late December 2020, compared to 770 in late June 2021.

For people considering DIY projects during the summer holidays, it is worth noting that during 2020-21, there were 6600 hospitalisations due to falls from ladders and 17,500 because of contact with tools or machinery.

There were about 1600 injury-related hospitalisations every day - a seven per cent increase from 1500 a day in 2018-19 before COVID.

The report documents injuries that require admission to hospital but does not include emergency department presentations that do not require hospital admission.

Ken McCroary from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says he has seen dozens of injuries from ladder accidents because of inappropriate or incorrect use.

Ladder accidents can have lasting consequences even if injuries seem minor.

"You don't have to fall far to sustain a serious injury. One to two metres can be enough," Dr McCroary said.

"Common injuries include fractured limbs, spinal cord damage, or severe brain injury. Falls from ladders can even result in death."

He says people should never use a ladder alone. Having someone hold the ladder is the safest option and also ensures someone is there to call for help if there is an accident.

Elizabeth Marles from the AMA says people should make sure to work within arm's reach of the ladder and avoid grabbing heavy items.

"Many patients experience bad falls because they were overstretching themselves," Dr Marles said.

"You should never have to lean out too far. If you can't reach, climb down and reposition the ladder."

Placing the ladder on dry and firm ground, engaging all locks and braces and avoiding rainy or windy conditions are other safety measures to consider to prevent potential accidents.