Numerous California deaths lead to heightened scrutiny of worker safety

Every day, someone dies in the U.S. from falling off of a ladder. A recent spate of deaths in California highlight their dangers.

In the span of just four days, four California construction workers died in work-related accidents, prompting the California division of the Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) to step up safety inspections of numerous worksites. While most people recognize that there is a heightened risk of workplace injuries on construction sites, the high number of deaths concerns safety organizations across the state.

Ladder-related accidents

One area receiving scrutiny this year is accidents due to faulty or improper use of ladders. According to the American Ladder Institute - a national trade association that educates the public about ladder safety - numerous ladder-related accidents occur on a daily basis in the U.S. On average, the following occurs every day as people use ladders:

  • Two thousand people incur personal injuries
  • One hundred people suffer debilitating and permanent injuries
  • One person dies

OSHA statistics reveal that 20 percent of worker deaths and nearly 50 percent of non-workplace fatal falls in the U.S. involve ladders. Interestingly, most ladder accidents are preventable.

Ladder safety do's and don'ts

In the workplace or during activities outside of the workplace, take steps to avoid ladder accidents by following these tips:

  • Use the correct strength ladder appropriate for the user's weight.
  • Fully set-up and secure the ladder before each use.
  • Always face the ladder when ascending, descending and completing tasks.
  • Keep three points of contact on the ladder at all times - two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand.
  • Do not carry tools or other items in your hands while ascending or descending.
  • Keep your body inside the side rails of the ladder at all times to avoid tipping.
  • Use a ladder that is the correct height for the task.
  • Never place a ladder on another object to extend its height.
  • Do not tie two ladders together to reach the desired height.
  • Do not attempt to move or shift a ladder while an item or a person is on it.

Employers must take responsibility to maintain safe working conditions for their employees. When it comes to ladder safety, employers should do the following to minimize injuries from ladders:

  • Avoid or minimize tasks that require the use of ladders
  • Provide alternatives to ladder use whenever possible
  • Perform ladder safety training on a regular basis
  • Enforce proper use of ladders on the job site
  • Regularly inspect ladders for wear and damage
  • Use appropriate safety accessories

When a person suffers an injury in the workplace, a workers' compensation claim may be appropriate for recovery of medical expenses, lost wages and permanent impairment. Additionally, there are situations where a claim against a third party may be appropriate.

Help for ladder accidents victims

Unfortunately, when others use ladders in an unsafe manner, ladders are defective or employers fail to provide safe equipment for worker use, accidents happen that cause serious injuries or wrongful deaths. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to another's negligence, consult an attorney experienced with personal injury and workers' compensation claims. Compensation may be available for losses suffered.

Keywords: personal injury, wrongful death, workers' compensation