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Ladder safety tips could help you avoid serious injuries

If you work in construction, you probably spend at least some of your work time on a ladder. While you may have done it so many times that it doesn't faze you, the truth is that you could experience serious injuries if you fall off one.

Falls from heights represent one of the biggest dangers of your profession. Those falls don't always happen from roofs, scaffolding or ledges, though. Many of the falls experienced by construction workers are from ladders.

Staying safe while using ladders

Two primary components make up ladder safety — the type of ladder and how you use it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has standards for ladder use on job sites, such as the following: 

  • The shape of the ladder's rungs must not allow your foot to slide off, which means they need to have skid-resistant material on them. 
  • The spacing of the rungs must meet certain requirements, depending on the type of ladder you use.
  • If you use a ladder that you must lean against a wall or some other supporting surface to use, you must properly position it before you ascend it.
  • Both fold-out (self-supporting) or leaning (non-self-supporting) ladders must be rated for the load they will hold, which means they should support up to four times the intended load.
  • A ladder that folds out, including stepladders, must have a working locking mechanism to make sure it does not collapse while you use it.
  • Ladders should not have any substances on them, such as grease, oil, wet paint or other substances that could cause you to slip and fall.
  • One should not fasten two or more ladders together in order to make a taller ladder. If you need to get higher up, you should put a platform in between each ladder.
  • The area below, above and around a ladder should be clear of equipment, tools and other debris.

You should have the confidence that your employer will follow these rules and provide you with the right ladder for the job. In addition, the construction of the ladder should meet or exceed industry standards. If one or both of these requirements are lacking, you could suffer serious injuries. Even a fall from a six-foot ladder could cause devastating harm.

If you do suffer a fall, you may receive workers' compensation benefits. However, if something else went wrong, such as a manufacturing defect in the ladder, then you may also have a third-party claim against the party or parties responsible. If you suspect the ladder from which you fell was faulty, you may want to consult with an attorney experienced in ladder fall injuries to determine your legal options.

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