Preventing ladder injuries at work

If you work in any type of construction job, you probably have plenty of experience with ladders. However, experience may not protect you from a serious fall and significant injuries.

Approximately 90,000 people end up in the emergency room every year due to ladder-related accidents — many of them with broken bones, twisted backs or traumatic brain injuries. Around 700 people die from elevated falls.

Most ladder accidents could be prevented with just a little extra care. According to the experts, here’s what it takes to avoid trouble:

Choose the right ladder for the job. Don’t try to extend the reach on a ladder that’s too short by propping it up on a chair. Similarly, don’t ever stand on the top rung of a ladder. Get one that has enough length to handle the job or use a scaffold.

Place the ladder properly. Ladders need to be put on level ground and properly secured at all times. Ideally, one person should be at the foot of the ladder, keeping watch and keeping it steady, while the other climbs.

Get rid of old, worn-out ladders. If your ladder has seen better days, recycle it and get a new one. You don’t want to take a chance on wood that is rotted or split or a metal ladder that’s started to rust. Either could suddenly give way underneath you.

Don’t climb a ladder with things in your hands. Government statistics indicate that fully 50% of accidents involving ladders had something to do with people trying to carry tools and other items as they climbed up. Climb first — then, have someone lift a bucket of tolls up to you.

Ladder safety is no small matter. Being comfortable with ladders and heights can easily make you forget the danger they pose.

If you are injured in a ladder accident at work, find out more about your legal options and your right to workers’ compensation.