Falls are some of the most common causes of on-the-job injuries in Pennsylvania and around the country, and about one in five fall-related injuries is suffered by a worker using ladders. This kind of accident is especially common on construction sites, and emergency room records reveal that fall injuries treated in hospitals involve a ladder approximately 81% of the time. Ladder-related injuries cost the economy about $24 billion each year, which may be why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration takes ladder safety so seriously. In 2018, unsafe ladders were the sixth most cited OSHA violation.
Preventing ladder accidents
Most ladder-related workplace accidents are caused by ladders that are either too short or not strong enough. OSHA regulations call for ladders to be sturdy enough to handle the loads they will be subjected to and at least 3 feet taller than the minimum height needed to provide stability. Before a ladder is used, its duty rating and length should be checked. This information can be found on labels applied by ladder manufacturers. Employers should also ensure that metal ladders are not used in situations where they could be exposed to electrical current.
The importance of ladder maintenance
Even the sturdiest ladders deteriorate over time, which is why OSHA recommends checking ladders on a daily basis to prevent falls and injuries. Ladder rungs should be checked for wear and traction, and ropes and locks should be examined for fraying, cracks and malfunctions. Ladders should also be placed on ground that is stable, level and firm; boards, blocks or other items should not be used to raise the height of a ladder’s base. Workers can protect themselves while on ladders by making sure that they always have three points of contact when ascending or descending.
Fall-related workers’ compensation claims
The injuries suffered in ladder-related accidents often require lengthy and expensive medical treatment, which is why this kind of workers’ compensation claim might be challenged by employers or their insurance companies. If you have been injured in a fall and wish to apply for workers’ compensation benefits, an attorney with experience in this area may help you with the application paperwork and ensure that your claim is supported by relevant medical evidence. An attorney might also advocate on your behalf during a workers’ compensation appeals hearing if your claim is denied.