According to safety authorities, falls remain the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry in California and across the country, and the unsafe use of ladders are often the cause. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says almost one-third of the annual fall-related deaths in construction involves ladders. Ladder safety should be practiced throughout the year and not only during the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.
Workers must understand that the height from which a worker falls does not always determine the severity of the injuries. Even falling from the second or third rung of a ladder can be deadly — depending on how and where the worker lands, and what is struck on the way down. Safety authorities say before ladders are used, alternatives must be considered because ladders are not necessarily always the best option.
Safety guidelines say the length of the ladder must always fit the height of the elevated area because even securely placed ladders that are too long can be unstable. Furthermore, workers must never carry heavy or bulky items while they are on a ladder, nor should they have to work on the ladder while standing sideways. A platform stepladder might be a safer option if the work at the elevated level will take a long time.
Sometimes, construction workers’ accidents happen in the blink of an eye, despite all the safety precautions taken. Fortunately, the California workers’ compensation system is a no-fault program that pays benefits to workers regardless of who was to blame. However, employers often challenge the validity of claims, and when that happens, it typically pays the injured worker to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in his or her corner.