The four most common types of ladder accident at work

Ladder accidents are a common cause of personal injury both at home and in the workplace. From cuts and bruises to more severe injuries, such as broken bones and damage to the head, they present significant risk to the user.

Although they are recommended as a sensible choice for low-risk, short-duration tasks, adequate precautions must be taken.

For ladders used at work, there are strict health and safety guidelines in place to prevent accidents occurring. This involves employers complying with the Work at Height Regulations (WAHR), including taking measures to limit risks which could result in personal injury.

For all other intents and purposes, ladder use should be approached with caution, ensuring all relevant checks are made.

It is when recommended safety measures are not taken, injuries occur. But what are the most common reasons for a ladder accident?

1. The wrong ladder has been used

Most accidents occur because ladders are used which are too short for the specific task. This leads to people placing the ladder on top of something or standing on the top rung. These kinds of actions are extremely dangerous to the climber.

Another common mistake is selecting a ladder which does not have an adequate weight capacity. Each ladder is designed to support a maximum weight limit and, if not stuck to, the ladder is liable to give way.

2. Using a worn or damaged ladder

Everything has a shelf life, and this includes ladders. A common mistake people make which results in falls is failing to replace ladders when necessary. The stress of people climbing up and down means they deteriorate over time, leaving them damaged and dangerous.

Split stiles, missing or loose rungs and absent or spoiled feet are amongst some of the most common reasons for worn or damaged ladders causing accidents.

3. Incorrect or inappropriate ladder usage

Using a ladder incorrectly, or in a manner in which it was not intended, results in countless accidents and personal injuries. People not taking care when climbing or attempting to lengthen or alter a ladder are common mistakes.

In addition, failing to maintain three points of contact often proves costly. All too often a climber, in an attempt to reach an awkward spot, will lean in a particular direction taking a foot away from its rung. The leads to instability, which in turn leads to falls.

4. Insufficient placement and ladder support

A vital issue in safe ladder usage is ensuring that the ground upon which it is to be placed is both firm and level. Many accidents have occurred as a result of ladders being put on uneven or unsuitable floors or surfaces, which has led to the ladder toppling.

A ladder not being properly supported, whether by a person physically holding it at the base or by stakes or ties, is also a common cause of accidents. As is placing ladders in front of doors which are not locked or suitably blocked or guarded.

Although ladder accidents are common, they are preventable. If adequate checks are made to ensure the right ladder is used for the job, that it is used correctly and that all necessary safety checks are made, personal injuries could be avoided.

If you were involved in a ladder accident, which was not your fault because of third party involvement or employer negligence, you could be entitled to compensation.