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Lewis, Marenstein, Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, LLP

Why are ladder injuries and deaths so common at work?

While some employees in California use ladders virtually every single day, many others occasionally step on them to reach objects above their heads. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that ladder-related accidents are a leading cause of workplace injuries in the Golden State and across the country.

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the U.S. also leads the world in the number of annual ladder-related fatalities. Why are ladder injuries and deaths so alarmingly common in American workspaces?

Misuse

Misuse is the most common cause of ladder-associated accidents. Nevertheless, there is more than one way to misuse a ladder. Here are some actions that may cause a ladder to become unstable:

  • Placing the ladder on an uneven, slick or shifting surface
  • Climbing too high on the ladder
  • Using the wrong type of ladder for the job

Electrocution

Even if workers use ladders correctly, there may be some electrocution risk. That is, when moving ladders, employees may accidentally entangle them with overhead powerlines. Because many ladders conduct electricity incredibly well, powerline entanglement may lead to a potentially life-threatening shock.

Damaged equipment

Like the other tools workers use, ladders have a shelf life for a couple of reasons. First, the passage of time may cause the ladder’s materials to degrade and weaken. More commonly, though, repeated or incorrect usage may lead to broken rungs, rails or components.

If workers discover a ladder is in disrepair, they should stop using the ladder immediately. To keep others safe, they also should clearly mark the ladder as damaged.

Ultimately, though, regardless of the cause of the ladder accident, injured workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.