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Spring Safety Tips for Consumers from Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

UL to Sponsor April ANSI Caucus

New York, Apr 28, 2003

ANSI Caucus

On Friday May 2, American National Standards Institute member and accredited standards developer Underwriters Laboratories (UL) will sponsor the monthly ANSI Caucus in Washington, DC. The Caucus will welcome Mr. Joe Mohorovic, a top policy assistant to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) chairman Hal Stratton. Mr. Mohorovic has recently returned from a trip to Europe, and will provide interesting and timely perspectives from European Union consumer organization officials.

ANSI Caucus luncheons are held on the first Friday of each month and are free to ANSI members. To RSVP or for more information, contact David Karmol, vice president of public policy and government affairs.

Since its founding in 1894, UL has built its reputation as a leader in product-safety testing and certification. The organization recently issued spring safety tips to guide and protect consumers as they tackle the annual household tasks inspired by a new season. Whether the outdoor spring-cleaning task is pruning the hedge or putting up a fresh coat of paint, consumer safety depends on important standards and the work of ANSI members like UL.

Ladders

Climbing up a ladder for that ambitious painting project, or even just to change a light bulb, can be more hazardous than people think. According to UL, approximately 220,000 people each year visit emergency rooms because of ladder accidents.

"Consumers should choose the proper ladder for the intended task. For example, if the ladder will be used near electrical sources, consumers should use a wood or fiberglass ladder to reduce the possibility of electrical shock," says John Drengenberg, Consumer Affairs manager at UL.

Reading the instructions provided by the manufacturer and identifying important guidelines for weight and height limits is also essential. UL recommends that consumers follow several additional precautions to help prevent ladder accidents:

  • Always use a ladder that is long enough for the task at hand. A great number of ladder accidents are the result of using a ladder that is too short.
  • Don't carry equipment while climbing a ladder. Invest in a tool belt or have someone hand the equipment to you.
  • Face the ladder when climbing up and down; keep your body centered between both side rails.
  • While up on the ladder, don't overextend your reach. Make sure you keep your weight evenly distributed.
  • Never move a ladder while standing on it. Always make sure people and equipment are off the ladder before moving or closing it.
  • Never stand on a ladder's bucket shelf. Read and follow the warning stickers for highest standing levels.

Lawn and Garden Tools

Approximately 87,000 Americans made hospital visits last year because of lawn mower mishaps, and another 76,000 were treated for injuries associated with other lawn and garden equipment. To keep home gardeners safe while they spruce up their yards, the safety professionals at UL recommend the following precautions:

  • Before using any appliance or tool, read and follow the manufacturer's use and care instructions. Pay attention to warning markings.
  • Inspect tools for frayed power cords and cracked or broken casings. If the product is damaged, DO NOT use it or attempt to repair it yourself. Return the product or have a qualified repair shop examine it.
  • Keep clothing, hands and feet away from cutting blades at all times. Never wear jewelry when working with tools. Always wear safety glasses.
  • Never alter a product or remove safety features such as blade guards or electric plug grounding pins.
  • Always look for the UL Mark before purchasing a garden tool/appliance or any other electrical product.
  • Use only properly rated outdoor extension cords with outdoor electrical tools.
  • Check the switch on a power tool or garden appliance to make sure it's "OFF" before you plug it in.
  • Unplug and all portable electrically operated power tools when not in use. These tools contain electricity even when turned "OFF" but still plugged in. Store tools out of children's reach.
  • Use and store power tools and garden appliances away from water sources to avoid electric shock. Never use tools in the rain.
  • Have a qualified technician install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles in all outdoor outlets. After installation, test your GFCIs monthly.

For more information on UL's spring safety campaign and tips on safe use of extension cords, power tools and lawn and garden equipment, visit UL's Web site.

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