Ladders do not immediately come to mind as a tool that presents a risk to workers, but in fact 20 percent of all fall injuries involve ladders. In industries like construction, any worker active six feet or more above lower levels is at risk for serious injury or fatality should they fall from their work area. Of all the construction fall injuries that had to be treated in a hospital emergency room, 81 percent involved a ladder. Fall injuries are of such concern in construction that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has designated falls as one of the so-called fatal four accidents.
Construction workers are not the only people at risk for ladder accidents. Ladders are a common tool used throughout many industries such as farming and agriculture, mining, manufacturing, installation, maintenance, repair, and cleaning. Even within an office setting it is possible to suffer injuries from a ladder accident.
Most ladder accidents can be attributed to one of three causes:
Choosing the right type of ladder is crucial. A metal ladder should never be used for work that is carried out near power lines. The ladder should be able to carry the proper amount of weight for the job and of course it should be the right height. If there is uncertainty about the capacity of a ladder, it should be confirmed by a supervisor.
The ladder should be in good condition. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that 66 percent of ladder accident victims had never been trained in how to properly inspect a ladder for defects before using it. Before using any ladder, check to make sure all the rungs are in place and secure. Safety feet and nonslip bases should be present. If the ladder is made of wood it should be checked for cracks, splinters, and rot. A ladder in questionable condition should be replaced by the supervisor on the job.
Employers can review the proper way to use a ladder with workers instead of assuming this is common knowledge. For instance, a major cause of ladder accidents is overreaching. Workers should always stay centered while on a ladder and not reach too far to one side or the other. The ladder also needs to be set up properly. A ladder should only be used on a level, non-slip surface. The base should be one foot away from the wall for every four feet of wall height and extend three feet beyond the top of the wall. Other important safety tips include:
A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) characterizes ladder fall injuries as representing “a substantial health burden of preventable injuries for workers.” Possible injuries from a ladder accident include:
Serious ladder accidents can leave workers severely disabled or can even result in fatal injury. If you have been injured in a work-related ladder accident, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer about your legal options. You may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits which can provide you with compensation for medical expenses including hospital treatment and prescription medications and wage loss benefits. Families who have lost a loved one can receive death benefits. If the accident was due to a structural defect in the ladder itself, additional damages may be recovered through a third-party claim.
At Gross & Kenny, LLP, our practice is focused solely on the needs of injured workers and their families. If you are filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers will make sure you and your family receive the maximum allowable benefits for your case. An initial consultation is free of charge, so call us today at 267-589-0090 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at our Center City offices.