How Ladder Accidents Lead to Personal Injury

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( — March 14, 2024) — Ladders are a common tool in many occupational and household settings, but their everyday use doesn’t exempt them from posing significant risks. Each year, ladder-related accidents contribute substantially to personal injuries. Understanding these risks and practicing ladder safety can prevent accidents and keep individuals safe whether they’re at work or managing tasks at home.

Common Causes of Ladder-Related Accidents

According to the Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Harris & Harris Injury Law Firm, the following are common causes of ladder-related accidents:

Improper Ladder Selection

Selecting the wrong type of ladder for the job can lead to a mismatch between the task and the ladder’s capabilities. Factors like the ladder’s length, weight capacity, and material can significantly influence the likelihood of an accident.

Incorrect Ladder Setup and Use

Setting a ladder on uneven ground, or failing to fully lock its spreaders, increases the risk of a fall. Using a ladder for purposes it’s not designed for, such as a bridge between spaces, also invites trouble.

Overreaching or Overloading

Reaching too far while on a ladder, especially to the sides, can cause the ladder to tip over. Overloading the ladder with excessive weight beyond its intended capacity can similarly cause it to become unsteady and collapse.

Lack of Maintenance

Ladders that aren’t well-maintained can have structural issues such as corrosion, loose rungs, or cracked side rails, which may not be immediately visible yet significantly increase the chance of injury.

Lack of Training

Without proper training on ladder safety, individuals may inadvertently misuse or improperly set up ladders. Occupational accidents are often attributed to a lack of safety training and awareness.

Potential Injuries from Ladder Accidents

The injuries sustained from ladder falls can range from mild to severe, depending on the height of the fall and the manner in which the person lands. Common injuries include:

  • Fractures: Falling off a ladder can lead to broken bones, with wrist, arm, and leg fractures being particularly common.
  • Head Injuries: One of the most serious consequences of a fall can be a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can range from a mild concussion to severe brain damage.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: A severe fall can impact the spinal cord, potentially leading to temporary or permanent paralysis.
  • Sprains and Strains: Overreaching or slipping can cause muscle sprains and strains, which can be painful and debilitating.
  • Cuts and Lacerations: Falling against the ladder or hitting objects during the fall can cause various cuts and lacerations.

Ladder Safety Practices

To mitigate the risks associated with ladder use, the following safety practices are recommended:

Choose the Right Ladder for the Job

Ensure the ladder is suitable for the task’s specific requirements, including height, weight limit, and material (non-conductive ladders for electrical work, for example).

Inspect the Ladder

Before any use, inspect the ladder for defects, damage, or wear and tear that could compromise safety.

Set Up Ladders Properly

Always place ladders on stable, even surfaces, and if using an extension ladder, follow the 4-to-1 rule for angle placement (for every four feet of ladder height, the base should be one foot away from the structure it leans against).

Maintain Three Points of Contact

Climb ladders by keeping three points of contact with the ladder at all times (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder).

Don’t Overreach

Keep your center of gravity between the ladder’s side rails. Move the ladder instead of overreaching to avoid tipping it over.

Use a Tool Belt

Carry tools in a tool belt or use a hoist to get equipment up to the work level. Carrying items by hand can compromise balance and safety.

Seek Training

For workplaces, ensure all employees who may use a ladder receive appropriate safety training, including the selection, inspection, and correct use of ladders.

Supporting Safe Ladder Usage

It is important for workplaces and individuals to commit to ladder safety. This encompasses not only the right equipment and training but also a culture that promotes safety above convenience or haste. By understanding the risks and instituting preventive safety practices, the frequency of ladder-related accidents and resultant injuries can be significantly reduced.