Falls are some of the most common work-related injuries, particularly among workers at construction sites, warehouses, factories and others in physically demanding occupations. Some workplace falls involve trips, slips and stumbles on a slippery or obstructed walking surface, while others involve falls from heights due to inadequate restraint systems, broken guard rails or other factors.
Regardless of the specific circumstances, falls pose a serious threat to workers in a wide range of industries. The good news is that many workplace falls are preventable, and recent research is helping to provide some new insights on how to do so.
According to researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, about one in every five fall-related workplace injuries involves a ladder. To help protect workers from the risk of ladder falls, the NIOSH researchers recommend that employers begin by minimizing the use of ladders as much as possible. This can be accomplished by finding ways to completing more work on the ground, and by using aerial lifts or scaffolding instead of ladders in situations where that is not feasible.
When ladder use is absolutely necessary, NIOSH says employers should provide adequate safety training and ensure that the ladders used are appropriate for the task and have been thoroughly inspected.
In 2011, ladder-related falls caused the deaths of 113 workers nationwide, as well as 34,000 non-fatal injuries that were serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. About 15,500 of those injuries resulted in at least one day of missed work. In Ohio, workers who are hurt in falls or other job-related mishaps are often entitled to receive monetary compensation for their medical expenses and lost wages through the workers’ compensation system.
Source: Safety.BLR.com, “Researchers reveal deadly facts about workplace ladders; Do’s and don’ts for ladder safety,” May 27, 2014