Ladders are commonly used in a variety of construction projects. From a small home improvement project to constructing a large office building, ladders are used in all types of projects. However, statistics show us that tens of thousands of people across the United States are injured each year as a result of ladder-related injuries, particularly falling off ladders. Workers especially suffer serious, catastrophic or even fatal injuries as a result of falling from a ladder.
Construction workers are most affected by ladder accidents. Ladders, however, don't have to be dangerous. Safety experts are unanimous in their belief that nearly all ladder accidents can be avoided provided the proper safety measures are taken. If you have been injured in a ladder accident on the job, it is important that you contact an experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyer to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.
Ladder Fall Injury and Death Statistics
The most recent study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that falls continue to be the leading cause of unintentional injuries and deaths all across the United States, and 43% of fatal falls in the 10 years preceding the study have involved a ladder. Among workers, the CDC study shows about 20% of fall injuries involve ladders. Among construction workers, a whopping 81% of fall injuries treated in hospital emergency departments involve a ladder.
Here are some of the more revealing statistics and findings that also came out of that CDC study:
- Males, particularly Latinos, had a higher rate of ladder fall injuries and deaths compared with females and non-Hispanic white people and workers of other races or ethnicities.
- The rate of death as a result of ladder falls was significantly higher among self-employed workers.
- Companies that employed the fewest workers also had the highest death rates involving ladder falls.
- The construction industry had the highest rates of ladder fall injuries when compared with all other industries.
- Across all industries nationwide, the highest rates of ladder fall injuries and fatalities could be seen in construction and extraction work followed by those engaged in installation, maintenance and repair work.
- Head injuries or traumatic brain injuries were found to have been the cause of nearly half (49%) of fatal injuries caused by falling of a ladder.
- A majority of ladder fall injuries that did not result in death involved upper and lower extremities.
Ladder Fall Injuries and Fatalities Are Preventable
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a vast majority of ladder falls could be avoided by employing safety measures while using ladders in worksites including the following:
Type of ladder: The right type of ladder should be used for the right task. Each ladder has a certain weight limit it can tolerate. If that limit is exceeded, the ladder might become unstable or even give way bring down the worker with it. It is important to select the ladder with the correct height and weight capacity for the job at hand. It is also never good idea to re-purpose a ladder and use it for a job for which it was not intended.
Damaged or worn ladders: Workers must be provided with ladders that are in good working condition. If a ladder is worn or old, it becomes dangerous for workers to get on it. It is also crucial that a ladder is inspected every time before it is used.
Securing ladders: Ladders must be placed on firm, level ground in order to be used safely. If the ground is not even or if it is unstable, ladders should not be placed there. They also should not be placed in front of a door unless it is locked or guarded. If someone opens the door suddenly, that could have devastating consequences for the worker who is on the ladder. It is always a good idea to have a second person hold or provide some kind of support to the base of the ladder when it is being used.
Appropriate use: Ladders should never be re-purposed or altered. Workers should be provided with safety training in a language they can understand about how to use a ladder safely.
Ladder safety systems: These are systems that are attached to a fixed ladder, which are designed to prevent falls from ladders. Such a ladder safety system typically comprises a carrier, safety sleeve, lanyard, connectors and a body harness. According to OSHA, cages and wells are not considered ladder safety systems.
How to Seek Compensation for a Ladder Fall Accident
If you are a worker who has been injured in a ladder-related fall, in addition to claiming workers' compensation benefits, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party (someone other than your employer) whose negligence may have caused your accident and injuries.
Some examples of these third parties include the company that manufactured the ladder; the store that sold the ladder; a property owner who allowed a dangerous condition to exist on his or her premises; construction company or general contractor; sub-contractor; and anyone else whose negligence may have caused the accident. Injured workers may be able to seek compensation for damages including but not limited to medical expenses, lost income, past and future pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Workers' comp benefits usually cover medical expenses and a portion of lost income. But, if you have suffered severe injuries such as brain trauma or paralysis or even broken bone injuries that are taking a long time to heal, you may be able to additional compensation by filing a third-party lawsuit. Often times, California workers' compensation benefits are simply not enough to help you cover all your injury-related expenses. If you have a lost a loved one as a result of a ladder fall injury, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a third party in addition to seeking workers' comp death benefits. For example, if your loved one died in a fall as the result of a faulty ladder, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer.
The experienced construction injury attorneys at Greenberg and Ruby know and understand the challenges injured workers and their families endure in the aftermath of such an accident. We will fight for your rights every step of the way and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your losses. Call us for a no-cost consultation and case evaluation.