Ladder Fatality in the News: A 54-year-old woman suffered a fatal ladder fall after retrieving Christmas decorations from her attic. Reports indicate that one of the ladder rungs broke while she was standing on it. A single crack caused this tragic event; always inspect a ladder before climbing.
Ladder Injury Statistics
- More than 500,000 people receive emergency room treatment from ladder-related injuries every year
- More than 300 of these falls end up being fatal
- OSHA believes 100% of all ladder accidents could be prevented if proper attention to equipment and climber training were provided
- According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of all ladder-related accidents were due to individuals carrying items as they climbed
4 Main Types of Ladder Accidents
Ladder accidents are extremely common even though they are entirely preventable. Ladder accidents can come from a wide variety of issues but the following four causes account for the vast majority. If these simple loss prevention tips for each cause are followed, ladder accidents could almost be eliminated.
1. Selecting the Wrong Type of Ladder
Like most other jobs, choosing the right tool can make all the difference when it comes to safety and this is the same for ladders. One thing to consider when selecting an appropriate ladder is the ladder’s weight capacity. Each ladder is designed to support a maximum weight limit and if the climber exceeds that limit the ladder could break and cause the user to fall or become injured.
Another consideration when selecting the appropriate ladder for a job is the necessary height of the ladder. Many injuries occur due to ladders being too short for a specific task, and instead of selecting a new ladder for the job, workers will place the ladder on something to extend its reach or will stand on the top rung to gain the necessary height. Both scenarios are extremely dangerous and can result in serious injuries.
2. Using Worn or Damaged Ladders
Another common contributing factor to ladder accidents is the use of old, worn, or damaged ladders. Like everything else, ladders have a shelf life; after a couple of years the stress of being climbed up and down on causes ladders to break down. Damaged ladders are extremely dangerous as they can easily break while being used and cause serious injuries.
To protect yourself from damaged or broken ladders, make sure to thoroughly inspect each ladder before using it. If any damage is found, do not use the ladder until it has been safely repaired to the manufacturer’s specifications or it has been replaced.
3. Incorrect Use of Ladders
Human error is by far the leading cause of ladder accidents. Never use a ladder in any other way than what the manufacturer intended it to be used for. Also, do not lengthen or alter a ladder in any way.
While using a ladder always maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder to ensure stability. Also, never attempt to reach for something while on the ladder. It is much safer to get off the ladder, move it, and then climb back up.
4. Incorrect Placement of Ladders
Make sure that when positioning a ladder, the ground you place it on is level and firm. Ladders should never be placed in front of a door that is not locked, blocked, or guarded.
A good practice to ensure a ladder is secure is to always have a helper support the base while a ladder is being used. If the ladder can not be held by someone else, make sure it has an appropriate foot to prevent it from slipping. The feet of the ladder can be staked if you are using a ladder outside and no one is available to support the feet of the ladder.