Title:
Ladder Safety Guard
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for preventing the use of the topmost rung and hindering access to the top step of a ladder that can easily be attached and removed in order to prevent unsafe ladder use and reduce injury.



Inventors:
Tate, Bryan Anthony (Union City, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/935376
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/05/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04G5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAVCHAVADZE, COLLEEN MARGARET
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRYAN TATE (Scotts Valley, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A ladder safety guard consisting of a guard body that prevents the use of the topmost rung 18 and hinders access to the top step 22 of a ladder.

2. The ladder safety guard of claim 1, further including external clips 12 that wrap around the outside of the side rails 20 of a ladder.

3. The ladder safety guard of claim 1, further including vertical hand openings 14 to allow the use of the side rails 20 as handholds.

4. The ladder safety guard of claim 1, further including a horizontal hand opening 16 to allow the use of the topmost rung 18 as a handhold.

5. The ladder safety guard of claim 1, further including a support brace 30 that keeps the guard body in position.

6. The ladder safety guard of claim 1, further including internal clips 24 which contact the inside of the side rails 20.

7. The ladder safety guard of claim 6, further including a release tab 26 on the end of the internal clips 24.

8. The ladder safety guard of claim 1 wherein said guard body 10 consists of more than one piece.

9. The ladder safety guard of claim 8 wherein said guard body consists of two halves 42 and 44 that slide horizontally relative to each other.

10. The ladder safety guard of claim 9, further including a locking tab 32 and locking teeth 36 that keep the halves in position relative to each other.

11. The ladder safety guard of claim 9, further including a slide bracket 34 along the top and bottom edge of one guard body half 42 that wraps around the other guard body half 44.

12. The ladder safety guard of claim 8, further including side braces 38 that contact the side rails 20 of said ladder.

13. The ladder safety guard of claim 12, further including side brace grips 40 on the outside edge of the side braces 38.

14. The ladder safety guard of claim 1 wherein said guard body 10 is made of plastic.

15. The ladder safety guard of claim 1 wherein said guard body covers an area delineated by the topmost rung 18, top step 22, and side rails 20 of said ladder.

16. The ladder safety guard of claim 1 wherein said guard body 10 is tall enough to cover the span between the top step 22 and the rung that is below the topmost rung 18.

17. The ladder safety guard of claim 1, further including a plurality of hooks for holding tools.

18. The ladder safety guard of claim 1, further including a plurality of holes for holding tools.

19. The ladder safety guard of claim 1, further including a plurality of cups for holding small tools or hardware.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable

BACKGROUND

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to safety devices that prevent people from using ladders in an unsafe manner. It specifically addresses falling hazards due to using the top of a ladder.

2. Description of Prior Art

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration records thousands of injuries every year involving falls from ladders. In 2005 the number was over 3,000. The most common cause of these falls is standing on the top rung or very top of a ladder. While devastating to people these injuries also cause insurance rates to increase, production to stop and time lost. In order to help prevent these falls, most of the major ladder manufacturers place a warning label on the ladder admonishing the use of the top rung and step. On a construction site, the general foreman is responsible for constantly watching for unsafe ladder use and ensuring all ladders are being used properly. As a sheet metal worker myself I know that ladders are used unsafely all the time when the general foreman is not looking. An adequate solution would address the problem of unsafe ladder use without shortening a ladder and work with or without safety personnel present. My invention accomplishes both.

SUMMARY

An apparatus that attaches to a ladder preventing the use of the topmost rung and hindering use of the top step of said ladder.

Objects and Advantages

The objects and advantages of this invention directly address the problems outlined above and offer increased functionality not yet mentioned.

Several objects and advantages of the present invention are:

    • (a) to prevent use of the top step of a ladder;
    • (b) to allow use of the top step and side rails as handholds only through gaps in the sides and bottom;
    • (c) to hinder access to and use of the top step;
    • (d) to eliminate unsafe ladder use as applies to using the top step and rung;
    • (e) to reduce injury from falling due to unsafe ladder use;
    • (f) to reduce contractor liability due to employees and subcontractors using ladders unsafely;
    • (g) to provide a means of promoting safety without constant supervision;
    • (h) to provide a device that can fit multiple ladder sizes and designs;
    • (i) to provide a device that can incorporate slots, hooks, cups, and holes for tools.
      Further objects and advantages of my invention will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing description.

DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows the preferred embodiment with external clips.

FIG. 2 shows a rear view of the preferred embodiment with external clips.

FIG. 3 shows the first alternate embodiment with internal clips.

FIG. 4 shows detail of the first alternate embodiment's internal clips.

FIG. 5 shows the second alternate embodiment with adjustable width.

FIG. 6 shows detail of the connection between the two halves of the second alternate embodiment as seen from the rear.

FIG. 7 shows detail of the locking mechanism of the second preferred embodiment.

FIG. 8 shows a rear view of the sides and grips of the second preferred embodiment.

REFERENCE NUMERALS IN DRAWINGS

10guard body
12external clip
14vertical hand opening
16horizontal hand opening
18topmost rung
20side rail
22top step
24internal clip
26release tab
28side rail gap
30support brace
32locking tab
34slide bracket
36locking teeth
38side brace
40side brace grip
42guard body left half
44guard body right half

DESCRIPTION

Preferred Embodiment

FIG. 1 shows a preferred embodiment of the present invention. A guard body 10 is roughly the same size as an opening framed by two side rails 20 and a top step 22 and a topmost rung 18 of a standard stepladder. The actual dimensions are determined by the size of the ladder being used but the rough dimensions are 12 to 14 inches square. The guard body is most likely made of ¼ inch to ½ inch injection molded plastic and has an external clip 12 located at four corners that are shaped to wrap around the side rails 20 of the ladder. The back of the external clips 12 wrap around the back of the side rails 20 and extend ½ inch to 1 inch towards the centerline of the ladder as shown in FIG. 2. The guard body has a vertical hand opening 14 on each side approximately 1½ inches to 2 inches wide that is large enough to grip the side rail 20 through. The guard body may also have a horizontal hand opening 16 that is large enough to grip the topmost rung 18 with a hand but not large enough to accommodate the toe of a shoe or boot (approximately 1½ inches to 2 inches high). At the bottom of the guard body 10 where the two bottom external clips 12 attach is a support brace 30 that covers the width of the topmost rung 18.

Operation

Preferred Embodiment

The operation of the invention is accomplished by simply attaching it to a ladder. The external clips 12 bend outward slightly as the guard body is pressed onto a ladder. Once the ladder guard is properly positioned the external clips 12 will snap into place around the back of the side rails 20. The support brace 30 contacts the topmost rung 18 and keeps the invention from slipping down the front of the ladder. The invention then functions passively to allow use of the side rails 20 and possible topmost rung 18 as handholds but eliminated the possibility of standing on the topmost rung 18. The invention also hinders access to the top step 22 because a user would have to go from the second to the topmost rung all the way to the top step 22. The invention continues to function regardless of ladder position or lack of supervision and does not hinder appropriate use of the ladder. The invention can easily be removed for storage or transfer by pulling the external clips 12 away from the side rails 20 and pulling the guard body away from the ladder.

DESCRIPTION

First Alternate Embodiment

FIG. 3 shows the first alternate embodiment which has 4 internal clips 24 instead of external clips at the four corners of the guard body 10. The internal clips 24, shown in detail in FIG. 4, are approximately ¼ inch thick, 1 to 1½ inches tall, and are a “U” shape in order to be slightly flexible. On the outside facing surface of the internal clip 24 is a side rail gap 28 that the edge of the side rail 20 will fit into. At the end of the internal clip 24 is a release tab 26 that extends roughly ½ inch from the side rail gap 28. The guard body 10 is roughly the same dimensions as in the preferred embodiment and also has a support brace 30 at the bottom.

Operation

First Alternate Embodiment

The first alternate embodiment operates differently from the preferred embodiment only in its application and removal from a ladder. Its passive operation of preventing the use of the top step and rung is identical to the two previously mentioned iterations.

The guard body 10 is pushed into the opening of a ladder from the front and the internal clips flex inwards to allow the side rails 20 to fall into the side rail gaps 28, securing the guard body 10 in proper position. The support brace 30 keeps the guard body from sliding down the front of the ladder and ensures proper orientation.

To remove the device from a ladder the release tabs 26 are simply pressed inward to allow the internal clips 24 to clear the side rails 20 and the guard body to be removed from the front of the ladder.

DESCRIPTION

Second Alternate Embodiment

FIG. 5 shows the second alternate embodiment comprised of a guard body left half 42 and a guard body right half 44 that are held together by slide brackets 34 on the left half 42. The slide brackets 34 run along the top and bottom of the left half 42 and wrap around the upper and lower edge of the right half 44 as shown in FIG. 6. At the center of the left half 42 is a locking tab 32 that has locking teeth 36 protruding from the underside and facing the right half 44 when the two halves are together as shown in FIG. 7. The right half 44 also has locking teeth 36 that span the width of the right half 44 and are aligned with the locking tab 32 on the left half 42. At the top and bottom of the left side of the left half 42 and at the top and bottom of the right side of the right half 44 is a side brace 38 that face outward. FIG. 8 shows a rear view of the side braces 38 on the right half 44. The side braces 38 are approximately 2 inches tall and just wide enough to fit inside the side rails 20 of the ladder being used. The outside surface of each side brace 38 has a side brace grip 40 preferably made of rubber.

Operation

Second Alternate Embodiment

The second alternate embodiment operates differently from the preferred embodiment and the first alternate embodiment only in its application and removal from a ladder. Its passive operation of preventing the use of the top step and rung is identical to the two previously mentioned iterations.

When applying the second alternate embodiment to a ladder the device begins in a closed position with the two guard body halves 42 and 44 interlocked and pushed together to create the narrowest width and laced inside the opening created by the top rung 18 and step 22, and the two side rails. The two halves are then separated until the side braces 38 contact the inside of the side rails snugly. The locking teeth 36 on the right and left halves 42 and 44 lock against each other keeping the two halves in position and securing the device in the ladder. The side brace grip 40 keeps the device from slipping and protects the side rails of the ladder from damage.

To remove the device from the ladder the locking tab 32 is pulled up, away from the device to allow the locking teeth 36 to slide freely past each other. The two halves of the guard body are then pushed together so that the side braces 38 clear the side rails 20 and the whole device can be removed from the ladder.

CONCLUSION, RAMIFICATIONS, AND SCOPE

It is concluded that the ladder safety guard of the invention is a simple and effective solution to a major safety hazard in ladder use.

While the above description contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as an exemplification of one preferred embodiment thereof. Many other variations are possible. For example, the device can be any color and be molded of any suitable material such as plastic or fiberglass. The invention can also be extended to cover more that the topmost rung. For instance, with ladders taller than six feet, the second and even third to top rungs may be unsafe to use and can be protected with a ladder guard that is longer. The invention can be made twice or even three times taller so that it covers as many rungs as needed without any significant design changes. The ladder safety guard can also incorporate hooks and holes for holding tools when not in use, and cups to store screws or other small materials. The body may also be branded with any manner of warning or instruction text and company name or logo.

Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiments illustrated, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.