Falls from height – The leading cause of construction accidents

Posted on 2nd Aug, 2012 | By Lorretta Tatham

Although many people believe more rigid safety laws and new technologies have made construction accidents an issue of the past, the truth is that falls from industrial ladders is still a frequent problem.

Construction accidents are a common occurrence and more fatalities are caused by falls than other construction related injuries.

Falls when working at height actually account for one-third of work-related deaths more than from any other construction related injury, much of the time from extension ladders, Falls account for about a third of deaths in construction.

In the industry, a fall may be from a roof, scaffolding, ladder or any others structure. Although there are a large number of deaths, there has, nonetheless been decline in recently.

But it is possible that the decline is not so much related to the improved safety measure but, instead, can be accredited to the recession.

Before the economic downturn, there were more than twice the current number of deaths.

Falls from ladders can be prevented if employers and workers follow the important steps set out by the Health and Safety Executive.

Different types of ladders are needed for different tasks. There are two types of ladder used in construction – fixed and portable.

If jobs require portable ones, which they often do, the first thing to decide of whether you need a self supporting A frame ladder, a straight ladder, or extension ladder. The actual height of the ladder is not the same as the highest point you can stand on it.

Weight may also be a safety concern. The duty rating will tell you the maximum height and weight your ladder can take.

Construction workers must use highly durable ladders for working at height – Type 1, 1A or 1AA – which can take up to 375 pounds.

The ladder should also be right for the specific environment you are working in and there are no repair problems with it.

Set up is equally important as choosing the right ladder to ensure a safe working environment. The location is key – away from doors, uneven surfaces and traffic. In addition, ladders, especially aluminium ones, must be kept away from power lines (10 feet) and should not be used in adverse weather conditions.

The ground should be solid and even surface, particular with extension ladders. Stamp on the ground to determine its strength. The ground does not feel hard enough, you can create your own base using plywood under base of the ladder.

Equally importantly, the ladder must be level because otherwise it will quickly become unstable when you climb up.

After the set up, you need to be cautious while you climb. Once you select the proper ladder and safely secure it, construction workers should be cautious as they climb.

Face industrial ladders when climbing, staying centred, carrying small loads and always keeping three points of contact with the ladder will help.

Even after taking all these safety measures into account there will still be accidents, but at least you can keep them to a minimum when working at height.

View our selection of ladders for more information.

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