According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 90,000 people are rushed to hospital emergency rooms every year after they suffer injuries in ladder accidents.
Causes of Ladder Accidents
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health believes that most ladder accidents can be traced to one of the following factors.
- The use of the wrong ladder for a particular task
- The improper use of the ladder
- Failure of the ladder due to a defective condition
Out of these, the most common factor in ladder accidents in the United States is number three – a defective condition in the ladder. This defect can emerge during the manufacturing process, and these defects can be serious enough to place users at risk of an accident.
Additionally, ladders can become dangerous because of regular use over a period of time. Ladders are disposable tools, and their serviceability and safety over time will depend on the quality of manufacturing, the kind of usage that the ladder has been subjected to, and the maintenance of the ladder. For instance, a ladder that has been dropped frequently, or has been used often, or by overweight workers, or has been exposed to the weather, could show signs of wear and tear much more quickly.
Ladder Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries
Whatever the cause of the ladder accident, these accidents can end in very serious injuries. At the very least, a worker may suffer broken bones, and other types of fractures. These include wrist fractures or hand fractures that result when a worker puts his arm out to block the fall, and can be serious enough to keep a worker off work for several weeks.
Other more serious injuries can include traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. These injuries are life altering in their impact, and have no easily available cure. If the fall has occurred from a high elevation, a ladder accident can also result in death.
Prevention of Ladder Accidents
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that employers reduce the risk of ladder accidents by:
- Inspecting every ladder before it is used
- Avoiding the use of ladders that are known to have structural defects – These must be placed out of service until repairs are completed.
- Making sure that ladders are secured safely to the ground
- Training workers on the proper use of ladders
- Never using a ladder for more than one worker at a time
Workers can reduce the risk of a ladder accident by:
- Making sure that the ladder is on a stable and slip-proof flooring before they use it
- Never placing the ladder against a surface that isn’t stable enough to support it
- Never placing the ladder against a surface that can shift
- Making sure that the ladder is secured safely to the ground
- Wearing well-fitting shoes that are properly soled
- Facing the ladder when using it to go up or climb down
- Carrying tools in the belt, so that the hands are free to help climb the ladder
John J. Sheehan is a Boston construction accident attorney, dedicated to the representation of workers who have suffered injuries in ladder accidents, and other accidents on construction sites in the Boston region and across Massachusetts.