There are approximately 300 people every year who die in ladder accidents. That is a staggering statistic and there are countless others who sustained serious injuries in ladder accidents at construction sites. Many of these tragedies can be avoided if a culture of worker safety is established. A culture of safety at a construction site requires a cooperative effort. Supervisors and workers must anticipate problems and plan ahead of time to make sure that a job gets done safely. Foresight is necessary to cultivate a safe work environment.
Providing workers with the appropriate ladder for a job is essential. A safe ladder is always able to withstand the weight of a worker and is one that is suitable for the job at hand. A perfectly safe ladder becomes dangerous if it requires a worker to do something unsafe to get the job done. For instance, a perfectly safe ladder that only allows the worker to complete the job if the worker climbs onto and works while standing on the top rung becomes a deadly weapon. A culture of safety also embraces training so that only qualified workers are on the site.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is one of the best resources for worker safety issues. Employers should be encouraged to make the time to learn the OSHA rules and regulations related to the use of ladders at a construction site.
Following these regulations and safely training workers will reduce ladder falls at construction sites. In turn, this can save lives and reduce the number of debilitating injuries that workers too often sustain.
What are some simple safety tips for workers to follow so they can avoid a ladder accident?:
- Pay attention to what the manufacturer says about using the ladder. Read the directions and labels that are on the ladder. Simple stuff.
- Never go up and down the ladder unless you are facing it. Your eyes are a valuable safety device. Don’t take your eyes off of the ladder.
- Never position the base of a ladder on a slippery or uneven surface.
- Make sure that the rungs of the latter you’re working on our free from debris or any slipping hazards.
- Isolation . . . You don’t want people walking in out of your work area while you were on a ladder. Traffic = Danger. Stake off your area.
- 3 Points of Contact. A worker should have both feet and one hand or both hands and 1 foot on the ladder at all times.
- Live Power Lines are a source of extreme danger. Make sure you are aware of any existing power lines and avoid them if possible.
- Make sure that you have the appropriate ladder. A 6 foot ladder is not sufficient for a job requiring an 8 foot ladder.
- Fall Protection . . . We have said it here plenty of times. Suitable fall protection needs to be employed to prevent elevation related accidents.
Everyone is entitled to a safe workplace. Employers are required under the law to provide you a safe place to do your job. Unfortunately, many workers feel powerless when it comes to reporting unsafe conditions at their job. Their concerns are well founded. They may feel like they will lose their job or face the wrath of an unhappy boss. Others feel like they will potentially be given less optimal assignments or lose over time opportunities. The law does not allow an employer to retaliate against a worker who reports an unsafe work condition. Still, there is valid apprehension about voicing a complaint. We understand it happens all too often.
The Government has a program in place that should comfort these workers. They can file an anonymous complaint, providing OSHA with the details of the safety issue and an opportunity for OSHA to inspect the work site without ever revealing the name of the complaining worker.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that is committed to fighting on behalf of construction workers and their families. Their team of impressive and talented lawyers has proven time and time again that they are the lawyers to get help from when you or a family member has been involved in a serious construction accident. You may learn more about the firm and their results or obtain a free consultation by calling 212.736.5300.