Construction workers use ladders every day, and they’re crucial to many jobs. While ladders might seem like just another tool in the toolkit, they can be incredibly dangerous if they’re used improperly. Ladder accidents can cause serious injuries and take many months of recovery. Knowing how to protect yourself from ladder accidents in the workplace could help. If you’ve been injured in a ladder accident, contact Loewy Law Firm for help from an experienced ladder accident attorney.
Common Causes of Ladder Accidents
Ladder accidents in construction zones are extremely common. Fortunately, they’re also usually preventable, so learning about ladder safety could help ladder users avoid injury. Some of the most common causes of ladder accidents include:
Wrong Ladder Type
Different ladders are designed for different tasks, so it’s important to choose a ladder appropriate for your task. Most ladder types have a weight limit. Exceeding that limit could cause the ladder to break, leading to worker injuries. Using a ladder of the wrong height can also be detrimental. If a ladder doesn’t reach the specific area that the worker needs to reach and they try to extend its length by mounting it on a table or other structure, the unstable set-up could cause a serious accident.
Altering a ladder to suit a certain task is never a good idea. It’s essential for workers to receive safety training before using a ladder. Knowing how to use a ladder can improve safety and stability. One of the most important safety rules when using a ladder is the “three-points” rule. A person will be most stable if they keep three areas of the body in contact with the ladder at all times, such as both feet and at least one hand. Abiding by the three-points rule can help prevent workers from falling.
Old or Damaged Ladders
It’s crucial to ensure that a ladder is safe to use before employing it for a task, particularly in a hazardous work site like a construction zone. Ladders wear over time and typically should be replaced every few years, especially if they’re used every day. If a damaged ladder breaks while a worker is performing a task, serious accidents and even death can result. If an inspection reveals cracks or other indications that the ladder may not be safe to use, workers should alert their employer and avoid using the ladder until it is repaired or replaced.
Ladders should always be secured before a worker uses them. The ladder should be positioned on firm, level ground. If a ladder is positioned on gravel or another type of shifting ground, it could cause the ladder to fall. It’s also important never to place a ladder in front of a door when someone might open the door. A second person should stand at the base of the ladder to help secure it at all times and ensure the safety of the climber.
Common Injuries Caused by Ladder Accidents
Ladder fall injuries can be particularly serious, depending on the nature and height of the fall. Ladder injuries typically require immediate medical care. Some of the common injuries caused by ladder accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries – Traumatic brain injuries can be life-threatening. TBIs typically occur due to blunt force trauma to the head. Concussions, hematomas, and skull fractures are all types of traumatic brain injuries. While concussions often require only close monitoring for a period of time, hematomas can require immediate emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on the brain. The effects of brain injuries aren’t exclusively physical since they can cause changes in memory, personality, and logic in addition to physical symptoms.
- Spinal damage – The spine is like the body’s postal service. It receives messages from the brain and transmits them throughout the rest of the body. If the spine is damaged, life-altering injuries can occur.
- Paralysis – If the spine is transected or damaged permanently, paralysis can result. Paralysis can be permanent and affect all areas of an individual’s life, from their career to their personal life.
- Broken/fractured bones – Broken and fractured bones in the arms, legs, wrists, and other areas of the body commonly occur due to ladder accidents. These types of injuries can require surgeries as well as extensive physical therapy.
- Hip fractures – If a climber falls on their side, it can easily cause a hip fracture. Hip fractures may render a patient immobile, preventing them from walking for a period of time. Hip fractures can also be life-threatening in serious cases. A fractured hip almost always requires surgery to either repair or replace the hip after injury. If the climber is older, the risk of a serious hip fracture is much higher.
Compensation for Ladder Accidents
Construction workers injured in ladder accidents on the job are often eligible to receive benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. The worker should report the accident to their employer right away. Within one year, the worker must file a report of the injury with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ compensation benefits in Texas are designed to help workers cover the cost of:
- Medical expenses – Falling from a ladder can cause very serious injuries, and medical expenses, including surgeries and physical therapy, can be costly. Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to cover these costs.
- Lost wages – Many injured workers will need to take time off work. Workers’ compensation helps those workers recoup some of their lost income due to their inability to work during recovery.
There are circumstances where a worker might be able to file a personal injury claim against a third party, like a contractor who was on-site, if the contractor’s negligence caused the ladder accident. In this case, a construction worker can claim both workers’ compensation benefits and compensation through a third-party personal injury claim.
How Loewy Can Help
If you were injured in a ladder accident, the experienced Austin construction accident attorneys at Loewy Law Firm are here to help. We can explain your legal rights and help you seek the compensation you deserve. Whether you’ve decided to initiate a personal injury claim or just want to know what’s possible, we can evaluate your case and help you determine the best course of action. Call us today for a free consultation.