Short Ladder Causes Serious Fall

Loss Amount: $535,000

Situation: An employee was working alone on a stepladder, changing an overhead light bulb, when he lost his balance and fell. At the time of the accident he was reaching to insert a new bulb and was not holding onto the ladder. The fall resulted in a fractured tibia and damage to a knee joint that required two surgeries. There were complications in the healing process that required an extended hospital stay. The treating physician reported that the patient would require a total knee replacement in 3-5 years.

Lesson Learned: There were several factors that contributed to this accident. The ladder was too short, requiring the person to overextend his reach, which in turn caused him to lose his balance. There was nothing to hold onto for stability, nor was there anyone to steady the ladder for him.

The following measures are recommended to help prevent accidents of this type:

Use correct equipment. A suitable ladder should be tall enough so the person is within easy reach of the task. It should also be rated for the combined weights of the user and any items being lifted, and constructed of appropriate materials. For example, use a ladder made of non-conducting materials for work near live electrical sources.

Consider alternatives. Using a pole-mounted light bulb changer may have eliminated the need for a ladder in this case.

Position equipment properly. Place ladder feet on a firm, even surface. Move the ladder as often as necessary to keep work within easy reach. This is especially important when working with heavier items such as placing food bags or cases on shelves.

Ask for assistance. It is always advisable to have someone else help secure the ladder when working up high or handing awkward items aloft.

Maintain your equipment. Keep ladders in good condition or make necessary repairs to prevent failure. Many ladder accidents result from broken or poorly maintained equipment.

For further assistance in preventing all types of losses, call VISC at 888.762.3143.