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Preventing employee accidents involving ladders at Illinois worksites

Summer is finally on its way and with it, the construction industry ramps up its activity throughout Illinois. In the rush to complete projects before the snow falls again, it can be easy to cut corners when it comes to safety requirements. But when it comes to the use of ladders, failure to slow down and enforce safety standards can mean accidents that cause serious injury and even death on construction sites.

Ladders are significantly dangerous in construction work

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the main federal agency responsible for enforcing work safety laws. OSHA reports that falls are the top reason for construction worker fatalities every year and falls from ladders regularly constitute almost one-third of those deaths.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the U.S. is the leading country in the numbers of ladder-related deaths, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

Safety tips from OSHA

First, before using a ladder, check it first for any signs of wear or breakage that could make it dangerous. Think about whether it is a safe tool for the task. OSHA says not to use a ladder if:

  • The worker must hold a heavy object on the ladder.
  • The height would require a long ladder, which can become unstable.
  • The task will take significant time.
  • The worker would have to position themselves sideways.

Other ladder safety advice includes:

  • Never stand on the top rung.
  • Secure the base and the ladder itself when accessing another building level.
  • Wear proper shoes that are flat, dry and not slippery.
  • Only use a ladder on even, level ground.
  • Check that the ladder is fully extended and locked into place.
  • Use barriers or safety cones to keep others from the area around the ladder or ask someone to guard against this problem.
  • Always keep three contact points (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand).
  • Do not carry heavy tools, equipment or materials when using a ladder.
  • Do not work sideways.
  • Do not place a ladder in front of an unlocked door that could open into the ladder.
  • And more

Be sure there are no power lines near the ladder. Don’t use a ladder when you are tired, ill, dizzy or dehydrated or in windy, wet or icy weather.

What if you are injured?

After receiving medical attention, anyone injured in a ladder accident should give their employer notice and begin the process of applying for Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. No matter who was at fault for the accident, the employee is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Should someone die after a fall or other ladder mishap, their surviving family and dependents should investigate whether workers’ compensation death benefits are available to them.

If the injury causes disability expected to last a year or result in death, the injured person should consider applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

An attorney can provide advice about and representation in the pursuit of legal remedies and benefits after a work accident.