What are the causes of ladder falls?
Ladder fall injuries are a persistent hazard both in the workplace and at home. There are five major causes for extension-ladder fall incidents:
Selection of a ladder with the proper duty-rating is also critical to avoid structural failure. However, knowledge on proper ladder selection is lacking among many ladder users, and this important safety step is frequently ignored.
Regular inspection and maintenance are good practices to reduce the likelihood of ladder structural failure, however, quick and easy access to ladder safety checklists is not always available.
Inappropriate and unsafe ladder user behavior is associated with many ladder fall incidents. Activities such as overreaching, carrying objects, applying excessive force, slips and missteps are also frequent causes of ladder-related fall injuries.
Finally, small companies that account for up to 80% of all construction companies, and individual ladder users, such as homeowners, do not typically receive the required training for safe use of extension ladders. Such ladder users are difficult to reach, often do not have access to safety information, and generally lack the resources to develop or follow an effective ladder safety program.
How big is the problem of ladder falls?
Falls-from-ladders are a leading cause of fall injury and death. In the US, more than 500,000 people a year are treated, and about 300 people die, from ladder-related fall injuries. The estimated annual cost of ladder injuries in the US is $11 billion, including work loss, medical, legal, liability, and pain and suffering expenses. Recent analysis of data from three surveillance systems showed that in 2011, work-related ladder fall injuries in the US resulted in 113 fatalities, an estimated 15,460 nonfatal injuries that involved days away from work, and an estimated 34,000 nonfatal injuries treated in emergency departments. Workers who are male, Hispanic, older, self-employed, work in smaller establishments, and work doing construction, maintenance, and repair experience higher ladder fall injury rates. There is a pressing need to address the serious problem of ladder-related falls and to reduce the resulting injury and death.
Enviro Safetech is a leading Environmental, Health and Safety consulting company founded in 1990 and located in San Jose, California.