This March, the American Ladder Institute (ALI) is celebrating its 5th annual National Ladder Safety Month. The campaign focuses on reducing the number of ladder-related injuries and deaths and ensuring people know how to use ladders safely.
Workplace Ladder Injury Statistics
Ladders are used by workers in a variety of trades and occupations. Workplace ladder accidents are common and pose significant risks of injury and death.
According to a CDC study that curated data from OSHA and other agencies, falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury and death in the U.S., and nearly half of fatal falls involve a ladder (43%).
Who’s at Risk?
- Among workers, roughly 20% of fall injuries involve ladders.
- For construction workers, as much as 81% of fall injuries treated in hospital ERs involve ladders.
- Companies with the fewest employees experienced the highest ladder fatality rates.
- Occupations with the highest rates of ladder fall injuries and deaths include those in construction and mining / extraction, and installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.
- The construction industry had the highest ladder fall injury rates of all occupational sectors.
- Roughly half of fatal ladder falls involve head and brain injuries.
- Most non-fatal falls involve injuries to the upper and lower extremities, including broken bones, fractures, and crush injuries.
- Ladder fall victims who sustain spinal cord injuries may suffer permanent disability, including paraplegia or quadriplegia.
Tips for Employers to Protect Workers
- Plan ahead. For jobs requiring the use of ladders or work performed at heights, employers must plan projects to ensure the job is done safely. This means assessing what tasks, equipment, and safety gear that will be required and using applicable OSHA ladder standards to create training programs, compliance policies, and safely organized worksites.
- Choose the right ladder. Choose high-quality ladders appropriate for your jobs. Per OSHA, self-supporting (foldout) and non-self-supporting (leaning) ladders must support at least 4x the intended load; extra heavy-duty metal or plastic ladders must support 3.3x the maximum intended load. Because an undersized ladder may tempt workers to stand on the top step, choose a length that allows workers to use at least the top three feet of the ladder for support.
- Provide PPE: Employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment to workers performing jobs at six feet or more above lower levels. This includes the right type of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).
- Regularly inspect ladders. Implement policies to regularly inspect ladders and accessories for signs of damage, including cracked, bent, or broken rungs or missing screws or rubber feet. Remove and tag damaged ladders from service until they are repaired or replaced.
- Implement a compliance plan. Create a comprehensive compliance plan that ensures employees are trained and educated about ladder safety. Regularly assess and adjust compliance plans as needed, and have an emergency protocol in place to respond to accidents.
Tips for Workers to Stay Safe and Protect Their Coworkers
- Inspect ladders before each use. Before starting work, examine your ladder to ensure it is in good working order, appropriate for the job, and capable of supporting the intended weight. If a ladder is damaged in any way or any parts appear to be missing, err on the side of caution and don’t use it.
- Set up ladders on firm, level ground. Never shim or place anything under a ladder; instead of building up a lower side, dig out the higher side to create a level set-up or gain additional height. Ensure levelers and locks on extension ladders are securely engaged
- Use the Three Point-of-Contact Climb. Always face the ladder and maintain three points of contact when climbing up and down (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand). Move slowly, be aware of fatigue, and never use the top step of a ladder,
- Overhead hazards. Survey your surroundings for potential risks, including overhead power lines. Avoid using metal ladders near power lines or energized electrical equipment.
- Hands-free climbing. Never carry tools or equipment up a ladder. Keep your hands free by using a tool belt or using ropes or lifts to raise larger tools and equipment.
Injured in a Ladder Accident? We Can Help.
The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., has been fighting for victims in workers’ compensation and civil personal injury cases since 1983 and has recovered millions for clients injured by ladder accidents and other height-related hazards, including construction accidents involving scaffolding, elevators, and cranes.
We know contractors, premises owners, and others who exercise control over worksites have legal obligations to ensure worker safety and provide adequate protection – and we know how to hold them liable when their negligence results in preventable harm.
Our attorneys are available to speak with injured workers about their options for compensation after an accident. We offer FREE consultations and proudly serve all five boroughs of New York City.