Knowledge of ladder safety measures has become more important as the number of injuries from construction ladder accidents has increased. In the United States, over a 16-year period that ended in 2005, one study found that more than two million patients in emergency rooms were there because of injuries sustained in ladder accidents. In Canada, 300 people die per year in similar ladder accidents, while about 100,000 people are hurt badly enough to need medical treatment. Because of the number of injuries related to ladder accidents, safety experts believe that employers and employees alike would benefit from increased awareness of ladder safety, including correct placement, use and maintenance steps.
According to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 66 percent of injuries are incurred by workers who were not provided adequate ladder safety training. The training includes the most appropriate ways to place and use the ladder and related equipment, and also specific maintenance steps such as how to inspect the equipment to make sure it is in good working order. OSHA ladder safety also sets standards for the correct way to securely brace a ladder. Safety regulations also are in place that designate how far apart a ladder’s rungs should be, as well as the distance between the erect sides. OSHA also recommends specific shapes for rungs and also types of rung coatings to prevent workers from slipping.
No matter how ladder accidents occur, the end result is often permanent injury. A lack of ladder safety knowledge has frequently resulted in falls with most injuries occurring to the lower extremities. Experts say safety measures are also important for a person who is working on the ground below a ladder because injuries have occurred as a result of falling items.
In movies, it can seem funny when someone is blindsided and knocked down by a ladder being carried by a coworker, but in real life this type of accident can have serious medical consequences. Other types of accidents that can be prevented by ladder safety training are run-ins with overhead power lines and tripping over inappropriately placed ladders. The association recommends that employers should adopt ladder safety policies that include proper usage, maintenance and removal. Such policies would go a long way toward the reduction of ladder accidents and ladder deaths, safety experts say.