Falls from ladders are a leading cause of unintentional injury and death on the job, according to a new study the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Philly.com recently reported on the study, which involved an analysis of workplace deaths that occurred in the U.S. over the course of 2011. Some startling facts were revealed:

  • Work-related ladder falls caused 113 deaths.
  • Almost 15,500 nonfatal injuries causing at least one day of missed work occurred due to ladder falls.
  • Around 34,000 nonfatal injuries on ladders were treated in emergency departments at hospitals nationwide.

An estimated 43 percent of fatal workplace falls over the past decade involved a ladder. The workers at the greatest risk for this type of injury included Hispanics, individuals working in construction, older employees, individuals working in mining or other extraction jobs, and those who do maintenance, installation or repair work for a living.

In Pennsylvania, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that 23 workers were killed in falls in 2012. In an effort to prevent injuries or deaths before they occur, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a guide to ladder safety.

Pennsylvania worker injuries and deaths can hopefully be prevented by following OSHA’s safety tips, including:

  • Avoiding ladders when other devices would be preferable. A scissor lift is a better choice for doing work at elevated heights for extended periods of time or when you need your hands to be free.
  • Ensuring ladders are not too short. Your ladder should extend for at least three feet above the landing point so you can easily grip the ladder above you with your hands. Standing on the top rung of a ladder is always very dangerous and should be avoided.
  • Securing the base of the ladder. The base of the ladder should be on solid and stable ground and it should be secured. Cones or other barriers should be erected to keep others away from the ladder and ensure it doesn’t get bumped or knocked over.
  • Wearing the right shoes. Flat shoes should be worn at all times when climbing a ladder. The shoes should have non-slip or non-skid soles.
  • Maintaining three points of contact between your body and the ladder at all times. Don’t remove both hands from the ladder and don’t carry items up the ladder in your hands.
  • Checking the ladder prior to use to ensure it is in good condition. Ladders should be maintained properly and stored safely to avoid damage.

Both employers and employees should do their part to reduce the risk of ladder accidents and fall injuries by following these simple safety tips.