Few things are as dangerous as working on a ladder. Did you know that falls lead the way in construction's Fatal Four every year, often making up about 40 percent of fatal incidents? On top of that, thousands of people suffer serious injuries every year.
Fall accidents happen daily. While not all of them happen from ladders, it is important to take ladder safety seriously. Ladders are one of the main reasons for these falls, and the level of exposure and distance from the ground means even a small mistake can lead to a devastating accident. To start being safe, it is important to consider the reasons why these accidents happen.
1. Workers get defective ladders
When a worker sets up a defective ladder, it may not matter at all if that worker does everything right and follows safety procedures. The workers can still fall easily. If one part breaks or doesn't perform as intended, workers face risks they may know nothing about. Keep an eye on ladder recalls -- tens of thousands of units get recalled in some years -- and always check over new ladders before using them.
2. Workers get the wrong ladders for the job
A worker must have the right tools for the job, and that includes the right ladder. Getting the wrong one puts everyone at risk. For instance, workers should always open a stepladder and use it as a stand-alone device, rather than leaning it against the wall. An extension ladder can lean against the wall, and workers may use it for higher jobs.
Switching the roles is problematic. If workers get ladders that are too short, they may have to lean, reach or stand on the top wrung. All of these things are dangerous. Workers must have the right ladders and use them correctly.
3. No one maintains the ladders
Like all other tools, ladders wear out. Maintenance must be done to repair loose rungs, bent legs and other issues. Ropes need to get replaced. Sometimes, heavily damaged ladders need to get thrown out entirely. When people neglect ladders and then fail to do safety checks and maintenance, a worker could get a defective device.
4. Workers do not have three points of contact
Workers need training on ladders before using them. One thing they must learn is that it's necessary to keep three contact points on the ladder at all times. That usually means two feet and a hand, while working with the other hand. It's dangerous to try to balance and work with both hands or to lean to the side so far that one foot comes off of the ladder.
Did you get injured in a fall from a ladder? Make sure you know why it happened and what legal rights you have.