Accidents or Falls From Height, Whilst Using a Ladder

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Falls from height account for a significant number of workplace injuries each year in a range of working at height activities.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirm that such equipment can be a sensible and practical option for low risk short duration tasks but that it is essential the right type of ladder is used and the person using it knows how to use it safely.

It is important that before using a ladder a risk assessment is carried out to check it is the right piece of equipment for the task ensuring that a higher level of fall protection would not justified because of the low risk and short duration of use or because there were existing workplace features which cannot be altered.

Accidents with ladders often happen due to lapses in judgment and a want to get the task done quickly meaning care is not taken.  For example it is essential for a leaning ladder to prevent slipping that it is tied to prevent slipping and has a strong upper resting point particularly if no one is going to be standing at the bottom of the ladder footing it for you.  This may feel over cautious but could prevent injury.  Over reaching when up a ladder is another common error as that can create an imbalance in the footing of the ladder and cause it to fall.

Below are some examples of claims and how they were resolved:

Carrying Equipment up a Ladder

A successful claim was for a Claimant working in the building industry.  A 2 level scaffold was erected on a driveway to create access to the roof.  The scaffold was accessed via a step ladder attached to the outside of the scaffold.  There was no pulley system in place to lift up or lower down equipment.  The claimant therefore had to carry his equipment up and down the ladder with him.  As he was descending the ladder carrying a bucket with debris in it he lost his footing and fell to the ground sustaining a nasty leg injury.  The claim was won because the Claimant was unable to keep the recommended 3 points of contact on the ladder at all times.  If he had not been carrying the bucket he would have been more secure on the ladder.  In addition, here the employer had not provided the claimant with the correct footwear for use such as boots with good grip and a heal step.

Ladder Not High Enough for the Job

An unsuccessful claim was run where the Claimant was provided with a step ladder for use at customer’s properties by his employer. The ceiling he needed to reach in the property was high.  The step ladder was not high enough so the Claimant decided to place the step ladder on top of the customer’s marble worktop and then climbed up the ladder from there.  He did not complete a risk assessment to consider the risks of doing this.  He failed to consider that the surface was unstable, too slippery and therefore did not consider that when he was on the ladder the ladder would slip and fall if not secured in place when he was on it working near the ceiling.

Ladder Not Secured in Place

A successful claim was run for a claimant where his colleague who was supposed to be helping to foot the ladder whilst the claimant climbed up left the ladder unattended. The ladder then moved as the claimant adjusted his weight near the top of the ladder.  This caused the ladder to move away from the wall it was resting on and the claimant fall to the ground.

Not Issued the Correct Equipment

A claimant was told to use a ladder to complete a decorating task as they were behind on the job. The people in charge wanted the work completed rather than waiting for the tower scaffold to become available. As a result, the Claimant lost his footing on the ladder as he was painting. The nature of the task involved him needing to move around changing his weight between his feet whilst painting.  The task he was being asked to do was not appropriate for completing on a ladder he needed the space and security that a tower scaffold platform would give him.

 

We know first hand the impact having an accident at work can have on a client physically, mentally and financially. If you have been involved in a fall from height or accident with a ladder that was not your fault please contact WSP Solicitors so we can consider the possibility of an injury claim for you. You can contact us here or by using the form on this page. Alternatively you can call us on 01453 847200.

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