Dangerous / Unsafe Condition in Workplace: Ladder Accidents

The Center to Protect Workers Rights reports that each year about five construction workers are killed by falls from ladders. Likewise, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are more than 164,000 emergency room treated injuries a year related to ladders. Not surprisingly, OSHA reports ladder violations as one of the ten most frequent citations. In this article, we will address questions and standards that our Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorneys regularly handle in regards to ladder-related injuries, including Cal/OSHA regulations specific to ladders and general regulations related to workplace safety as it relates to ladders. We will also discuss if you can file a claim for serious and willful penalties related to ladder injuries and how to report an employer that does not follow the ladder safety requirements. 

Dangerous Unsafe Condition in Workplace Ladder Accidents
What are the Cal/OSHA regulations specific to the uses of ladders in the workplace?

Ladder accidents are most frequently caused by improper selection, care, or use of the ladder. Incorrect positioning, using the wrong ladder for the job, defective ladders, and workers not being adequately trained are also frequent causes of ladder accidents. With proper training, ladder accidents would likely be reduced.

The California Code of Regulations explicitly requires that before any employee uses a ladder, the employee shall be provided training in the safe use of ladders, or demonstrate that they already have adequate training. Supervisors of employees who use ladders must also be trained, and the training shall be part of the general employer's workplace injury and illness prevention program.

Ladder training is required to include a discussion on the importance of using ladders safely to make sure everyone is acutely aware of the dangers of improper use. The training must also include instruction on the proper selection of ladders. There are many factors to consider when choosing the appropriate ladder, like the ladder's length, its maximum load capabilities, and whether the ladder is suitable for use near electrical hazards.

In addition to the above, each employee that uses a ladder is to be trained on the inspection of ladders for dangerous conditions, the proper way to erect a ladder including the angle of inclination, the appropriate way to climb a ladder including body position and points of contact.

Finally, every employee that uses a ladder in California is required to be trained on the prohibited uses, including climbing on cross bracing, exceeding maximum length, and understanding the minimum overlap requirement of ladder sections.

What are the general regulations related to ladders on job sites?

Every employer in California is required to have a workplace injury and illness prevention program. Besides the specific OSHA and Cal/OSHA regulations that relate specifically to ladders, the person in charge of the illness prevention program is required to inspect the premises for potential safety hazards, not just those listed in the regulations, but those that a reasonable person would consider being unsafe.    

If you are seriously injured after falling from a ladder, can you file a claim for serious and willful penalties?

If you suffered serious injuries as the result of a fall or injury on the job in California, you might be entitled to both the standard workers' compensation benefits and possibly a monetary penalty based on a serious and willful condition. A serious and willful claim for a ladder injury at the workplace is relatively rare but possible. To establish a claim, you and your Sacramento Workers' Compensation Attorney would generally need to show that the employer had actual knowledge of a dangerous condition or use of the ladder. The most likely scenario would be an employer providing a defective ladder, or the wrong type of ladder. For example, an employer provides an employee with a ladder that is too short for the use or providing the wrong kind of ladder for electrical work.

In addition to showing the employer had actual knowledge of the specific danger of the ladder used, a Sacramento Workers' Compensation Attorney must also show that the employer knew the probable consequences of the danger would be a serious injury, as opposed to a minor injury. The height of a possible fall and conditions surrounding the fall would weigh heavily on this element. Likewise, a major electrical injury would likely suffice. Finally, the employer must have had a reasonable time to remedy the situation after it knew of the dangerous condition.

Can you report a workplace for violating safety regulations related to ladders?

If you are forced to use a ladder in a dangerous situation, you should generally consider speaking up and notify someone in charge at the job site. If your employer does not remedy the situation, you could consider contacting Cal/OSHA directly and file a complaint about the dangerous condition of the ladder.

As Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, we are confronted with employees that have suffered serious injuries in the workplace from the fall from a ladder daily. This article only touches on a few of the many regulations that apply to ladders in the workplace. Hopefully, it gives you some ideas of what regulations do exist and your rights. If you have been injured as the result of a dangerous condition or a fall from a ladder, please contact one of our Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for a free consultation.