Ladder Falls are an Occupational Hazard
Falling off a ladder can lead to serious injury and death in the workplace. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that ladder falls are a major cause of unintentional occupational injury across the United States. Twenty percent of occupational falls involve ladders, researchers found. Ensuring proper safety precautions can prevent ladder-related falls and deaths.
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A CDC study published in the Apr. 25, 2014 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that falling off ladders are a major source of occupational injury and death. The study was led by Christina Socias, who commented “Falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury [deaths] nationwide, and 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder,” according to a HealthDay News article published at the time.
Researchers found that “among workers, approximately 20 percent of fall injuries involve ladders,”
By analyzing U.S. National data for 2011, researchers identified 113 deaths and nearly 15,500 nonfatal injuries caused by work-related ladder falls. The ladder fall injuries caused employees to miss at least one day of work. The study also found that 34,000 nonfatal ladder falls in the workplace involved treatment in hospital emergency departments.
Fall injuries appear to be more common among certain populations of workers, including men, older workers and workers who are Hispanic. Certain fields have a greater risk, including employees working in construction, extraction (mining), installation, maintenance and repair.
The authors noted that fall injuries among construction workers frequently involve a ladder, stating “Among construction workers, an estimated 81 percent of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments involve a ladder,”
Ladder falls are preventable, and certain measures should be taken to address the occupational injuries and deaths related to the issue. The researchers emphasized the need for adequate training to ensure that ladders are used safely in the workplace, and elsewhere.
Ladder Safety: Preventing Injuries from Ladder Falls
The authors of the CDC study recommended several simple measures that can help reduce the risk of ladder-related falls. For example, researchers advise employers to complete as much as possible on the ground, without the use of ladders. If workers do need to be elevated, consider ladder alternatives such as aerial lifts or supported scaffolds. Ladders that are used should be “thoroughly inspected” and the proper safety accessories and protocols should be implemented.
Ladder safety measures should account for a worker’s weight, task and location. Employers should also provide workers with on-the-job ladder safety training and information, so they have knowledge about safe ladder use.
According to the CDC, there are five major causes for ladder falls: incorrection setup angle, inappropriate ladder selection, insufficient ladder inspection, improper ladder use, and lack of access to ladder safety tools and information.
The American Ladder Institute also has many recommendations for safe ladder use. Among other things, the group urges individuals to maintain a “three point-of-contact” climb. This means that the user must be facing the ladder and holding on with two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot at all times. By maintaining this three-point contact, the user reduces the likelihood of falling in case one limb slips or becomes unstable. Users should not carry any objects in their hands, as this will interfere with the three-point contact.
Falls are also less likely to occur if the user wears slip-resistant shoes that will have a good grip while climbing up the ladder. Leather soles, for example, are not suitable footwear. Ladders should also not be used during certain weather conditions, such as high winds or storms.
Make sure that a ladder is not being placed on a slippery surface before use; the ground should be firm and level. Additionally, users should inspect the ladder to make sure it is the right size for the job, and is in good working condition.
Individuals who suffered a ladder-related fall on the job due to negligence may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. Compensation from a settlement can be used to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you or someone you know is interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact the personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman today. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).