Over 43 percent of all fatal falls over the last decade involved people who were using ladders. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90,000 others are treated in emergency rooms for ladder-related injuries every year.
The study found that construction and mining industries saw the most fatal accidents involving ladders. The majority of fatal falls involved traumatic head injuries, and companies with the fewest employees ranked highest for ladder-related fatalities.
Ladders are essential tools that are found at most workplaces across the country. But when ladders are not used safely, life-threatening work injuries can occur.
4 Most Common Ladder Mistakes
According to another study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (C.P.S.C.), ladder injuries have increased by 50 percent over the last 10 years. Other startling findings from the C.P.S.C. report include:
- 50% of ladder-related accidents occurred when climbers are carrying items or tools while on a ladder;
- 700 occupational deaths per year were caused by elevated ladder falls;
- 32% of injuries from ladder accidents resulted in fractures, the most common type of ladder-related injury.
Most ladder accidents can be linked to four common mistakes people make when using ladders on the job:
1. Using Damaged or Worn Ladders
It is incredibly dangerous to use old or damaged ladders, regardless of how high you are climbing. Ladders endure an enormous amount of wear and tear in industries such as construction and manufacturing. Overtime, ladder components can become weak and ineffective, causing them to break while workers are climbing. This is especially true for wooden ladders that can warp with exposure to extreme heat and humidity.
2. Selecting The Wrong Ladder
There are thousands of options when it comes to choosing a ladder for your workplace. But that doesn’t mean all of them will be appropriate for the job. Selecting a ladder that does not hold enough weight or is too short can allow them to fall or break. Altering ladders to fit the job puts the structural integrity of the device at risk, and further increases the chance of an accident.
3. Incorrect Placement
The incorrect positioning of a ladder can lead to disaster before a climber even begins. Ladders placed on uneven or soft ground will not stay straight and sturdy as workers climb. And ladders that are placed in front of unlocked doors or in high traffic areas of the workplace can be knocked over by others walking by. This can be especially dangerous when unstable ladders are left unoccupied, as they can cause traumatic injuries to surrounding workers when they fall.
4. Incorrect Use
There will always be people who use tools in ways they were not designed to be used. These human errors result in some of the most catastrophic accidents when it comes to ladders. Examples of using ladders incorrectly include altering a ladder to become longer, standing on the very top step, using ladders horizontally as bridge-like structures, or attempting to move ladders while suspended in the air.
Other Hidden Dangers
There are several other factors a worksite that can lead to ladder-related injuries. Some include:
- Weather Conditions: Workers who use ladders outdoors can experience sudden inclement weather conditions that can increase the risk for accidents. Rain, wind, snow, and ice are all conditions known for leading to falls.
- Ladder Recalls: Defects in manufacturing can lead to the sale of dangerous ladders. In 2018, a recall of over 78,000 Werner ladders was initiated after reports were made of ladders breaking beneath workers. Some of these ladders were up to 26 feet tall.
- Medical Emergencies: Workers who experience medical emergencies while on a ladder can become seriously injured in the case of a fall. Some workers have been known to experience blurry vision, vertigo, and panic attacks when climbing ladders, all putting their immediate safety at risk.
These factors can be hard to predict, but they are not impossible to plan for. Most ladder accidents are 100 percent preventable when precautionary measures and safety measures are used on the job.
Preventing Ladder Accidents
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (O.S.H.A.) recommends the following safety steps for reducing ladder-related injuries across all industries:
- Follow all manufacturer instructions for how to operate your ladder properly;
- Only use a ladder with the proper weight and height limits you require for the job;
- Inspect ladders frequently or before each use;
- Always replace or repair broken and worn ladders;
- Place ladders on a firm and even service;
- Make sure all locks are secure and the feet of the ladder are even on the ground;
- Never place a ladder on top of other objects to extend the length. Use a larger ladder;
- If available, have a coworker hold the ladder steady from the ground and serve as a spot; and
- Use fall equipment protection to prevent injuries if a ladder-accident does occur.
If you are using ladders outdoors, check the weather for any signs of inclement conditions that could pose a danger to climbers. If you have any health-related conditions that could put you at risk for falling when on a ladder, check with your doctor before performing elevated tasks.
New York City and Long Island Personal Injury Lawyers
Our personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Siler & Ingber, have over 20 years of experience serving injured workers across New York City and Long Island. We protect your rights by maximizing recovery and securing the financial support our clients need to succeed on their road to recovery. Our winning attorneys know how to navigate through the claim process using our past experience as insurance defense attorneys. We are not afraid to fight and are fully prepared to take your case to trial to get a justified verdict over settling for less.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a work-related accident, our team at Siler & Ingber is here to help. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 1-877-529-4343, or schedule an appointment online anytime. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.