Ladder falls remain one of the most common causes of work injuries. Fortunately, there are steps workers can take to prevent these workplace accidents.
Many workers get the impression they 're not going to get seriously hurt if they fall. Serious injuries and deaths caused by ladder falls don't always happen from extreme heights. They can happen at heights of up to 10 feet. Many of these are triggered by common mistakes. About four out of every 10 work-related fatalities happen at 15 feet or lower.
Human factors in ladder falls
According to Occupational Health & Protection, the ladder safety requirements established by OSHA are not adequate to protect employees from falling. In many instances, human factors cause falls.
Human factors that often lead to falls include:
- Workplace fatigue — Fatigued workers are more likely to make errors.
- Distraction — Cell phone distractions, multitasking, and even worker-to-worker conversations can lead to falls.
- Moving too fast — Some workers may bypass security precautions to get a job done more quickly.
- Complacency — Those who operate daily from heights can become desensitized to drops or become overconfident.
- Slippery surface on a ladder — Water, spilled liquids and other slippery substances can increase the risk of falling.
- Incorrect ladder positioning and use — The ladders should be positioned on a level ground surface and should be sturdy. Any wiggle room can result in unstable conditions and lead to falls.
Preventing ladder falls
Ladder falls can be prevented by taking these precautions:
- Use the right ladder: Workers should not be over-extending or reaching out on a ladder when performing tasks.
- Utilize the three points of contact: Workers should establish and maintain three points of contact while using a ladder. The elbows, knees and feet should always maintain contact with the ladder in order to stay balanced and stabilized.
- Avoid overreaching: If you're using the right sized ladder, be sure to adjust it or move it in the right position to avoid having to overreach.
- Use the 4-1 ratio: The base should be pulled off from the wall by one foot for every four feet of ladder length used.
- Ensure that ladder is level: A ladder should never wobble or feel unstable. Instead, it should be firmly placed or adjusted on an even surface.
- Inspect the ladder before use: Be sure to inspect a ladder for dents, cracks or leg damage, or damage to the steps or base.
- Pay attention to electrical conductivity: Those who work around electricity should use non-conductive fiberglass ladders rather than aluminum.
Contact an attorney if you were hurt on the job
If you were injured at work, it's important that you speak to an experienced Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney who can help you file a claim and get the compensation you need.