Almost everyone has had an occasion to use a ladder whether it is to reach something high, for painting and repairs, for yard work or other maintenance work, or as part of their daily job. While climbing a ladder may seem like a relatively low-risk task, in reality, hundreds of thousands of people are injured from ladder-related accidents every year. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over 90,000 people require emergency medical care, and hundreds of people die annually from ladder falls and ladder accidents. Human error, negligence, and improper usage account for many of these injuries and accidents. However, countless catastrophic injuries have been attributed to ladder design flaws, manufacturing defects, and failures.
What Problems & Defects Can Occur with Ladders?
Ladders can be subject to improper or negligent maintenance and repair, defective manufacturing, and defective or poor design, making them incredibly dangerous for every day use.
Common defects and failures that have caused injuries include:
- Failing locks on extension ladders
- Rungs breaking and bending
- Lack of slip pads on the feet
- Split rails
- Corroded components
- Loose bolts and nails
- Bending and collapsing posts or legs
- Warped or bent wood
- Inadequate training and supervision
- Incorrect load ratings
- Failure to adequately warn of hazards
Falling even a few feet can cause catastrophic injuries including broken bones and fractures, lacerations, leg injuries, head and spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and even death. Countless electrocution and electric shock injuries occur when metal ladders come into contact with power sources and power lines.
Ladder Injuries & Deaths at Work and Construction Sites
Ladder injuries and deaths are unfortunately relatively common on job sites, construction sites, and other work sites. OSHA tracks worker fatalities and catastrophes occurring at work sites nationwide. The agency continually updates a list of worker deaths. Unfortunately, a simple search through the OSHA list reveals 66 mentions of fatalities due to the use of a ladder. These fatalities typically occur due to falls from ladders or metal ladders coming into contact with electrical wiring. Descriptions of fatalities caused by ladders in the report includes:
- “Worker killed in fall from ladder.”
- “Worker electrocuted when ladder contacted high voltage line.”
- “One worker electrocuted and two hospitalized when ladder contacted power line.”
- “Worker installing satellite dish killed in fall from ladder.”
- “Worker trimming tree killed in fall from ladder.”
- “Worker on roof electrocuted when ladder contacted overhead powerline.”
- “Worker harvesting grapefruits killed in fall from ladder.”
- “Worker killed in fall from dump trailer ladder.”
As the above descriptions make clear, ladder injuries and deaths can impact many industries besides construction. Landscaping companies, trash collection and recycling companies, home improvement contracting firms ,roofers, satellite TV installation ventures and farm and agricultural concerns can all be impacted by the dangers of improper ladder use, improperly maintained ladders, or defective ladders. Likewise, a worker could also be killed in retail environment after a fall from a stock room ladder.
How Can Ladder Injuries & Deaths Be Prevented?
OSHA recommends three-step approach to improving ladder safety. First, don’t spring immediately into action, but start by planning how you can accomplish this job safely. Once you have formulated a plan, be sure to obtain the correct equipment to perform the job. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all ladder and ladders should not be used as scaffolds. Furthermore, the individual should obtain and properly set-up appropriate safety equipment. The final step in sound ladder safety practices is to engage in frequent safety training. For employees, their employer should provide this training. For individuals considering the use of a ladder at home, OSHA provides extensive training materials.
Our Philadelphia Ladder Injury Attorneys Can Help
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or wrongfully killed as the result of a defective ladder, you need someone experienced in the complex area of product liability to help you fight for financial compensation you may be entitled to. If a dangerous or defective ladder has harmed you, the experienced ladder and product liability lawyers of Reiff & Bily can help you investigate what caused your injuries and determine who may be responsible.
Our ladder defect and product liability lawyers have advocated for consumer protection and have successfully represented clients and obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for injuries, pain and suffering, medical costs, and lost wages caused by ladder failures. While experienced past results are no guarantee of a future outcome, we approach all matters we take on strategically and aggressively. Consumer protection and encouraging sound safety practices by holding negligent and responsible parties accountable are our top priorities. To schedule a private and confidential ladder injury or wrongful death consultation call the lawyers of Reiff & Bily at (215) 274-0072 today or contact us via the web form found at the top of the left-hand column on this page.