Ladders: Simple and Underappreciated Tools That Cause Fatal Work Injuries

Construction workers in the Bakken oil field are familiar with many hazardous tools and equipment. The dangers of some of them are plainly obvious by their power, size, sharp cutting surfaces, or the intense heat they generate. Many of these require specialized training. However, there's one tool that anyone can use that kills about 300 people per year. This tool is the ladder. Because their use is obvious and nearly everyone has some experience with them, ladders are universally taken for granted. It's precisely because of this that they've caused so many serious and fatal accidents. Here are three ways these accidents happen:

Improper Ladder Usage

Ladders are misused in many ways. Standing on or near the topmost rung is one example of this. Allow at least an extra seven feet on extension ladders so that no part of your body extends above the ladder. Never reach or lean off to the side because it's an unstable position and may tip the ladder over. Keep your body centered over the rungs. Climbing ladders with objects in your hand is also dangerous because you can't use three-point contact with the ladder rungs. When accessing an elevated surface, the ladder should extend three feet beyond its top point of contact.

Improper Ladder Setup

Placing a ladder too close to vertical, risks its falling over backward with you on it. Instead, place the base of the ladder one-quarter of its length away from the wall. Don't use boxes, bricks, or other objects to extend its height. Use a longer ladder. The ladder's feet must be placed on the solid, stable, and level ground. Do not place or handle long ladders next to power lines. The minimum distance will depend on the line's voltage.

Use of Old, Damaged or Otherwise Compromised Ladders

Like all tools and equipment, ladders require replacement when worn out. Retire ladders with cracks, bent rungs, worn rungs, and missing parts. Even metal doesn't last forever because it fatigues (forms microscopic cracks) and weakens from constant usage. New ladders should be retired if they've been abused. Never use ladders made slippery from grease or oil.

If you suffered a work injury in a ladder accident, retain the assistance of a skilled work injury lawyer. Contact us at Odegaard Miller Law.