According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the U.S. relating to ladders. Because they can easily slide, break and tip, ladders are considered a dangerous workplace tool. Dozens of occupational deaths involving ladders are reported annually.
There are numerous ways ladders can pose a serious threat to a climber. If the steps are slippery, the potential for a hazardous fall greatly increases. If a person props a ladder on top of another for extra height, the equipment has been known to move suddenly, causing the climber to fall dozens of feet.
The CPSC warns that consumers can be electrocuted when they use metal ladders near overhead wires. Consumers often use metal ladders near overhead wires to clean gutters, paint structures, trim trees, and repair roofs and chimneys. There have been a number of deaths that occurred from electrocution when someone was using a metal ladder which contacted an electrical wire in or around the home.
Ladder accidents are not always the fault of the victim. Statistics acquired by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration indicate that many accidents are due to improper training of climbers and a limited review of the equipment.
The CPSC has offered several safety tips to avoid a ladder accident:
- Make sure the weight your ladder is supporting does not exceed its maximum load rating (user plus materials). There should only be one person on the ladder at one time.
- Use a ladder that is the proper length for the job. Proper length is a minimum of 3 feet extending over the roofline or working surface. The three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder should not be stood on.
- Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at about a 75-degree angle.
- All metal ladders should have slip-resistant feet.
- Metal ladders will conduct electricity. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder in the vicinity of power lines or electrical equipment. Do not let a ladder made from any material contact live electric wires.
- Be sure all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged.
- The ground under the ladder should be level and firm. Large flat wooden boards braced under the ladder can level a ladder on uneven ground or soft ground. A good practice is to have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.
- Do not place a ladder in front of a door that is not locked, blocked or guarded.
- Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to the side while working.
- Do not use a ladder for any purpose other than that for which it was intended.
- Do not step on the top step, bucket shelf or attempt to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.
- Never leave a raised ladder unattended.
- Follow use instruction labels on ladders.
If you have been injured in a ladder accident, it may be important to contact an attorney
who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits
within which you must commence suit.
- Defective & Dangerous Products: Overview
- Broken Back: Overview
- Broken Bones: Overview
- Head & Brain Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury