The number of ladder accidents that cause injuries to workers in various industries nationwide every year, including in Ohio, is concerning. So much so that March is National Ladder Safety Month. This might address the prevalence of workers’ compensation claims by victims of ladder accidents. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, emergency rooms see 500 victims of work-related ladder accidents every day of the year.
OSHA says manufacturers test ladders at four times the weight for which they are designed, and for this reason, the condition and purpose for which a ladder is used will determine its safety. Employers must ensure that workers inspect ladders before every use for dents and cracks because, if one is bent or split, it can collapse unexpectedly. The agency says it is not only the side rails and rungs of the ladder that must be inspected but also the feet, which are typically covered in a soft material. Just like the tires on a car, they must be replaced when worn.
For safe ladder use, there are three basics to keep in mind — choose the ladder according to the job to do, place it correctly to ensure stability and climb safely while using both hands. To satisfy these requirements, the ladder must have the correct weight rating for the worker in full gear. Also, the type of ladder must suit the job; too often, workers will use a closed A-frame ladder leaned against a wall to climb on or off a roof, while an extension ladder would be the safe option.
Hopefully, creating awareness of ladder safety during March will lower the number of ladder-related workers’ compensation claims. However, this does not mean benefits for victims of ladder injuries will be limited. Ohio workers whose employers fail to provide good quality ladders that suit the jobs may end up in hospitals, facing high medical bills and lost income. The workers’ comp program will be there to provide for those unfortunate workers.
Source: ohsonline.com, “The National Movement in Ladder Safety“, David Francis, March 1, 2017