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Defective Ladders & Scaffolding

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 24,000 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities occur each year due to workplace ladder fall accidents and scaffolding collapses. Ladder fall accidents and injuries that involve collapsed scaffolding are primarily seen in the roofing,  tree servicecommercial painting and construction industry.

Falls remain a leading cause of unintentional workplace injury and fatality in the United States. Among painters and construction workers, an estimated 80 percent of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments involve a ladder. Around 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder. Many other fall accidents on construction sites involve unsafe or faulty scaffolding.

Because falls are the leading cause of construction site injuries and deaths, OSHA and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have conducted a national campaign to prevent workplace accidents and falls.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated catastrophic injury lawyer who has had success representing victims of construction injuries and ladder fall accidents. 

The Lyon Firm works with OSHA officials and construction site design experts to determine whether employer negligence, negligent operational procedures, or defective ladders or scaffolding products caused an injury. 

Common Causes of Ladder Fall Accidents

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the number of ladder-related injuries in the United States increased by more than 50 percent from 1990 to 2005.

Common injuries to construction workers and painters include spinal and brain injury. Bone fractures are the most common type of injury, with legs and feet the most frequently injured body parts. The following factors regularly contribute to ladder fall accidents:

  • Selecting the Wrong Type of Ladder—ladders too short or insufficient for the task. Many ladder accidents result from using ladders too short or weak.
  • Using Old, Worn or Damaged Ladders. Ladders have a limited lifespan for safe use. The weight supported over time may cause a ladder to wear down.
  • Not considering a ladder’s weight capacity. All ladders are designed to support a certain maximum weight. If that limit is exceeded, the ladder may collapse and cause injury.
  • Wet, greasy, or oily footwear.
  • Poor training. Up to 70 percent of victims of fall accidents were never provided with verbal or written instructions on the safe use of ladders.
  • OSHA Fall Safety Violation. Failure to secure or brace ladders at the bottom or top.

Incorrect Use Leads to Ladder Fall Accidents

Individual workers using ladders are often unaware of the severe risks. Safety experts say ladders and scaffolding should be treated with the same caution as any dangerous construction tool. Improper ladder training and human error is a leading cause of ladder fall accidents and injury.

Only use a ladder in the way the manufacturer intended it to be used for. When working on a ladder, consider the following safety tips:

  • Keep one hand on a side rail at all times. Over half of ladder fall accidents involve victims holding objects with one or both hands while climbing up or down the ladder.
  • Keep centered on the ladder. A good rule is to keep the belt buckle between the rails.
  • Keep body straight and close to the ladder.
  • Don’t reach too far. Overreaching is a major cause of ladder accidents. Use a taller ladder to reach higher.
  • Don’t try to reposition the ladder while standing on it.
  • Always use three points of contact with the ladders, or in other words, keep at least a total of three hands and feet in contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Incorrect Placement of Ladders can cause accidents. Always place the ladder on level and firm ground. Never place ladders in front of an unguarded door.
  • Use a helper to support the base of a ladder.

Defective Ladders

Ladders are one of the most widely used piece of equipment on roofing and construction sites. But due to design defects or faulty materials used in manufacturing, some defective ladders put workers at risk of severe injury. Thousands of workers are injured each year due to ladder defects. Some ladder defects may include:

  • Ladders produced with rungs that bend at a weight below the weight listed on the warning label
  • Telescoping ladders may break at full extension
  • The locking mechanisms on some defective ladders can fail and result in major injury.
  • Some defective ladders collapse too quickly
  • Ladders may not have proper traction on the hold holds and present slipping hazards.
photo of attorney Joe Lyon
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Why are these cases important?

Serious injuries and accidents often result through no fault of the injured party, yet the injured victim suffers from life altering physical, mental and financial losses. Such economic and human losses can have devastating financial consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through personal injury lawsuits.

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