Ladder falls have been played for laughs in slapstick comedies for years.
However, in real life, a ladder fall is anything but humorous. In fact, it can be deadly, as the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports in, "Falling Off Ladders Can Kill: Use Them Safely," as part of the agency's ongoing "Stop Falls" campaign.
While our Montgomery work accident attorneys aren't aware of any Alabama-specific statistics on this matter, we do know that ladder-related accidents are on the rise in the U.S.
Researchers at the Columbus Children's Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy, in a study published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, indicate that ladder-related injuries across the country climbed more than 50 percent between 1990 and 2005.
During those years, more than 2.1 million people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ladder-related injuries. On average, that works out to more than 136,000 injuries annually.
Of those, about 10 percent had to be admitted to the hospital, which is twice what the average rate is for other injuries related to consumer products. Men accounted for nearly 80 percent of ladder-related injuries. The most common kinds of ladder injuries were fractures, mostly to the feet and legs.
Study authors said part of the problem is that many people who use ladders don't consider them a danger, the way they would, say, a power saw. Therefore, they don't use the kind of caution they probably should.
Construction site supervisors are often guilty of the same kind of oversight.
Some the tips OSHA advises to ensure ladder safety are:
- Make sure you are using the correct ladder for the job. As an example, make sure the ladder is tall enough for you to reach your work area without having to stand on the top rung.
- When using ladders to access another level, secure and extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the landing point to provide a safe handhold.
- Make sure the base of the ladder is secured.
- Wear the right shoes - non-slip, flat footwear.
- Put the ladder on an even surface.
- Make sure the ladder is totally extended before you start working.
- Keep passersby from walking near or underneath the ladders by posting up cones or having a co-worker serve as a lookout.
- Keep three points of contact on the ladder at all times. For example, two hands and a foot or two feet and one hand.
- Don't carry any of your tools or other materials in your hands when climbing up the ladder.
- Avoid leaning away from the ladder to do the task at hand. Keep your weight centered between the side rails at all times.
- Don't use the ladder near a doorway, or if you must, make sure the door is locked.
- Don't use a ladder if it's bent, missing a step or if it has no locking device on the spreader bars.