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How can employers prevent dangerous ladder falls?

Construction work is essential work, but it can also be dangerous work. There are many potential hazards on construction sites, including trench or scaffold collapses, falls, electric shock and injuries due to improper use of personal protective equipment. Furthermore, many individuals are injured on a construction site from the seemingly simple task of using a ladder.

According to OSHA, almost 25,000 injuries occur annually due to falls from ladders or stairways during construction jobs. Additionally, there are approximately 36 fatalities annually due to such falls. There are ways that employers and employees can prevent serious injuries from ladder falls, however.

One of the simplest preventative measures is for a worker to use the correct ladder for the job at hand. Additionally, a ladder should be of sufficient length to reach the area a worker needs to access. Individuals should not use ladders that have metallic components if they are working near overhead power lines or other electrical work, as this could pose the risk for a dangerous electrical accident, as well.

Employers should ensure that ladders that are defective or damaged are appropriately marked or otherwise destroyed so they cannot be used on a jobsite. Additionally, employers should make sure that a visual inspection of a ladder occurs before use in order to assess whether the ladder has any dangerous defects. For example, a ladder with broken rungs or damaged safety devices, or one that is dirty or greasy, could increase the risk that an individual will fall while using the ladder.

Despite taking precautions on the jobsite, it is not always possible to prevent ladder falls and their associated injuries. If you have been injured in a ladder fall or other construction site accident, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. An attorney may be able to offer assistance.

Source: OSHA, "Worker Safety Series: Construction," accessed Sep. 30, 2016

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