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Ladder falls are killers for workers

For construction workers here in Texas, falls are always a concern. Falls are always dangerous because of gravity, which causes a worker to accelerate the further they fall. In addition, workers injured in falls often suffer catastrophic and deadly injuries because they often have little control as they fall, often striking the ground or other objects with their head and neck.

They also may be impaled on other equipment, tools or worksite debris. Many of these falls are from ladders, which because of their ubiquity present a danger that may be obscured by their ordinariness. Construction workers' accidents involving ladders can result from their underestimating the risk.

Research from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that 20 percent of workers who suffer an injury from a fall were using a ladder. Most of these injuries can be prevent by the use of proper safety procedures.

When using a ladder, all workers should be properly trained in their use. One aspect of that training is how to avoid using a ladder. Less time on ladders means fewer ladder accidents.

It is also important to ensure that a ladder is properly sized for a job, both in length and weight carrying capacity. That carrying capacity must include the worker and all equipment and supplies he or she will be using when on the ladder.

Because 43 percent of deadly falls involve the use of a ladder, these safety precautions are important. In 2011, 115 workers died from falling off ladders, and more than 15,000 lost at least one day of work.

Serious accidents from falls can result in permanent injures for workers and time-consuming legal battles over coverage, payment of claims and liability for employers. Proper training and use of ladders can minimize the risks.

Source: Safety.BLR.com, "Researchers reveal deadly facts about workplace ladders; Do's and don'ts for ladder safety," May 27, 2014

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