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Are ladder falls preventable?


Utica residents are used to seeing construction workers operate in some spectacular settings, including extreme heights. The other side of this image, however, is the statistic that falls from roofs, scaffolds or ladders and other similar elevations are the leading cause of death in the industry.

A fall doesn't even need to occur from a dizzying height in order to cause serious injury or death. In fact, one third of fatal falls in construction are ladder falls. Some might wonder if an occasional fall from a ladder isn't just part of being in construction. They may ask: what can be done to prevent ladder fall accidents?

An important precaution is to consider carefully whether you should even be using a ladder at all, or some other equipment like a scissor lift. If you'll be holding heavy items, working for an extended time, or having to stand sideways on the ladder, ask your employer about other options besides a ladder.

If you are using a ladder, there are some steps you can take to protect your safety. For example:

  • Ask your employer for a ladder that is tall enough for you to work without standing on the uppermost rung.
  • Make sure your employer has blocked off the foot of the ladder with cones or other barriers, so passersby don't interfere with it.
  • If your employer has you working near a doorway, it should be locked.

Ladders should also be stored and maintained properly, unbent and with no missing rungs or locking mechanisms.

Even a fall from a seemingly ordinary height can result in permanent injuries. You may be unable to return to work for some time. Fortunately, not only are there steps that can help reduce the risk of a ladder fall, but injured workers have rights to workers' compensation that can prove vital when they do suffer injury in this way.

Source: OSHA, "Falling Off Ladders Can Kill," accessed on Dec. 4, 2015

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