Working in the construction industry is not an easy thing to do – with the fast-paced environment of many people doing different things at the same time, it is no wonder that the construction industry ranks near the top in terms of workplace accidents every year. Ladders are commonly found in the construction industry, but they are especially dangerous, particularly when not used properly. The construction industry has the highest rate of injuries related to ladder falls compared to any other industry.
Ladder falls are quite serious as they can lead to debilitating injuries and even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that over 40 percent of fatal falls that happen every year involve a ladder, including 15 percent of all work-related deaths. The CDC also found that almost half of all fatal ladder injuries resulted from a head injury; nonfatal injuries were injuries to the lower and upper extremities.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ladder accidents are not inevitable and are 100 percent preventable. With proper safety training and equipment, ladder falls could be at a minimum, saving billions of dollars in workers’ compensation claims, as well as thousands of injuries and hundreds of lives.
- Use the right ladder – There are various ladders available, each performing specific tasks. It is important to always use the right ladder for the job at hand, as each one has certain weight limits, height, and function. Never repurpose a ladder; if the ladder is either too short or too tall it will likely cause overextending which is very hazardous. Overloading a ladder is dangerous and may cause it to break, so always check to make sure you are using the appropriate ladder that can handle the height and weight needed for the job.
- Level ground – All ladders need firm level ground in order to be used safely and properly. Anything else other than flat and sturdy ground, including soft and shifting ground, is unsafe and will likely lead to a fall. Make sure the ground the ladder on is also dry and free of any obstructions. It is highly recommended to use a ladder with someone else at the bottom keeping the ladder steady and secure.
- Check the ladder – Before using the ladder, be sure that it is free of any damage, and it is in good condition. Do not use it if it is old and is worn in anyway.
- Always use properly – Never use a ladder in a way in which it is not meant to be used. Only one person should be on the ladder, and do not use it if you feel ill or dizzy. Face the ladder when going up and use rungs of the ladder to help you climb, not the sides. Never lean or overreach and keep three points of your body on the ladder at all times, whether it be two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand. Employers should provide proper safety training for all their employees, so they are sure of what is and what is not safe ladder use.
The Cost of Ladder Falls
For a worker who has suffered an injury from a ladder fall, the cost could be enormous, both physically and mentally. Medical treatment and rehabilitation, time away from work, and maybe a career change or disability are all possible outcomes for an injured worker’s future. Although a ladder can cost a few hundred dollars each, the average construction industry injury can cost more than $27,000.
About the majority of ladder-related falls result in a trip to the hospital. The average fall distance among construction workers is seven and a half feet. Serious injuries do occur in falls of that height. Falls from ladders make up over 80 percent of hospitalized construction workers, while in other industries ladder falls only account for 20 percent. Of those injured workers who end up in the emergency room, 14 percent are admitted to stay overnight. This is nearly three times the overall hospital admission rate.
The average copay of a worker is $250 with insurance; without insurance, costs of hospital visits can get quite expensive, spanning upwards of thousands of dollars. If an ambulance is needed, it will get even more expensive.
Not only are medical visits and hospital stays expensive, but so are the lost days at work. They not only affect the employee’s pocket, but their employer’s productivity as well. In the span of a year, over 15,000 ladder-related injuries caused workers to miss at least one day of work. Falls that led to serious injuries resulted in more than five days of work, as well as costing the construction industry over $2.5 billion in workers’ compensation costs. Falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims in the construction industry, which is the most across all industries.
Ladder falls lead to a myriad of injuries, but even ladder use can strain a worker’s back and knees. All joints are getting fatigued while using a ladder – knees, back, shoulders and arms. When fatigue sets in, the body becomes tired which increases the risk of a fall. It becomes even worse if the worker is carrying something up and down the ladder or is stretching to reach something. Constant fatigue to the body can lead to improper use of the ladder and will likely lead to a fall.
A good solution to costly ladder-related injuries in the construction industry are the use of push-around lifts. With a low-level lift, workers can work with both hands and have a full range of motion while on an enclosed platform, minimizing the need to stretch, bend or overreach. Push-lift use also helps eliminate muscle fatigue. In a three-year span, there were only 360 injuries from slips or falls stemming from a push-lift, compared to the industry’s average of 93 ladder injuries per day.
The Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Injured Construction Workers from Ladder Falls
The risk of suffering a ladder fall injury in the construction industry is high compared to all other industries. If you have suffered an injury at work, then you must contact the Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow immediately. Our knowledgeable team has years of experience with these types of injuries and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (302) 427-9500 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we service clients throughout the state.