by Ned Stoller Ned Stoller

Do you have outside work that needs to get done?  Especially stuff that is up high?  External house walls, gutters, tree trimming?  I don’t know about you, but I cannot safely climb a ladder anymore.  Something about the change in height really throws off my depth perception.  That really limits my chances to work on higher projects.  I still really like to do all of these things and do not like asking my neighbors to always help, and my wife has enough to do!  This has forced me to think of options for these tasks.  How can I complete these tasks without using a ladder?  Let’s look at several options for tools for some of these tasks.  But before that, let’s talk about ladder usage.

You can use a ladder?  Great.  But a look at basic ladder safety is in order as well.  Over 300 deaths and 160,000 injuries each year are attributed to misuse of ladders.  Don’t injure yourself or add yourself to the list of disabilities we try to help folks with.  These are some great pictures of people hoping to get on that list:

 Here’s Jeopardy for you.

Answer:  At least 3.









Question:  How many guys can you squish at once with a refrigerator?

Potential for diasaster.



Don’t walk under this guy!









Ladder feet:  4-5 inches

Width of railing:  4-5 inches

Amount of brain matter in this guy’s skull:  Too small to measure.



 The nearest I can figure is he’s just sure that awning over the entrance (or the bushes nearby) will catch his fall.

The good point, I suppose, is that he is maintaining three point contact with his “ladder” which is important in ladder safety! 

(Thanks to OSHA for the great pictures)

Here are some key ladder safety tips:

4 to 1 ratio while using ladder (for every four vertical feet, the base of the ladder should be one foot out from base of wall.)


Never use aluminum ladders near electric wires

Never step on top two steps or top or bucket holder

Ensure clear area around base of ladder, along with ensuring the base is on a non-slip area.

Make sure ladder is on the ground.  If you need a higher ladder, get one, don’t build something to put the ladder on !












Overreaching is most common cause of injury!  Lose your balance and you lose the battle!

Ensure ladder is in good condition and is the right one for the job.  Don’t try and use an extension ladder for a job better suited to a stepladder and don’t use a stepladder as an extension ladder.

Ladders are great, but they can be deadly.



Now let’s look at some tools that can help you without using a ladder!




Pressure washer wand extension – allows for the use of your pressure washer for high areas. 





Gutter washers – U shaped extensions for your pressure washer that will allow you to clean out those sticks and leaves from the ground.  



Pressure washer support beltsLong pressure washer wands allow workers to clean tall structures without climbing ladders, but the wand can become quite heavy to hold. The support belt straps around the worker’s waist and shoulders, then the wand clips to the belt. 



 Pole sawsWorkers with leg impairments can cut high tree limbs from the safety of the ground with pole saws. Arthritis, amputation, paralysis, poor balance and other physical limitations keep workers from climbing ladders.  Pole saws come in different types, either manual or gas powered.




 Rope chain saws – an alternative to a pole saw.  Basically a saw on a rope, this is used by tossing one end of the rope around the branch, then pulling the saw back and forth to cut the branch.







Even with the use of these tools, it can still be difficult to perform tasks.  Moving around the weight of a pole saw or tree trimmer can be difficult and cumbersome, if not impossible for some of us.  With the pressure wash extension there is a support belt, but that won’t work for other tools.  There is a system called the Easy Lift that can support the weight of such tools, enabling you to still use the tool.