April 25, 2014 — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published a study indicating that workplace ladder falls remain a leading cause of injury and death in the United States, especially among construction workers.
- 43% of fatal workplace falls in the last decade involved a ladder.
- 20% of all workplace injuries involve ladders.
- 81% of construction worker falls treated in an emergency room involved a ladder.
In 2011, there were 113 deaths caused by workplace latter falls (about 0.09 per 100,000 full-time workers). There were 15,460 non-fatal injuries reported by employers that resulted in at least one day away from work. Approximately 34,000 non-fatal injuries were treated in an emergency room.
Construction workers had the highest workplace fall rates, followed by mining, installation, maintenance, and repair. Nearly 90% occurred at heights under 16 feet. Hispanics, self-employed workers, and workers at small businesses had disproportionately higher rates of falls.The authors of the study called for more research into preventing ladder falls.
In the meantime, they recommended a number of precautions. As much work as possible should be done on the ground, without the use of ladders. Workers should be provided with aerial lifts and other alternatives to ladders. Before using a ladder, it should be thoroughly inspected, appropriate safety features, and a well-chosen location. Workers should also be trained on how to use a ladder safely.
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