Written by Faith Anderson on July 30, 2013
One of the most dangerous and avoidable causes of accidents on construction sites is the use of defective equipment, particularly tools and pieces of equipment that are overused or improperly maintained. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that there are more than 24,000 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities on construction sites each year that are caused by falls on stairways and ladders. Nearly half of these injuries were serious enough to require time off work. Every time you set foot on a ladder, you are putting your trust in the structure, depending on the rungs and rails to support your weight and prevent you from falling. Unfortunately, when manufacturers fail to design or build ladders and other construction equipment and tools according to strict specifications, or when these materials are not well-maintained or inspected on the job site, the results can be devastating. If you were injured in a construction accident caused by a defective ladder, contact a construction accident attorney to explore your compensation options.
Consequences of Defective Ladder Accidents
Ladders are and have always been a simple way to move from one level to another when constructing buildings, and this unassuming piece of equipment is the foundation upon which the construction industry is built. Unfortunately, because ladders are so simple, they are often taken for granted, which can lead to devastating consequences. Defective ladders can include ladders with broken rungs, uneven feet, a warped or rotted frame, cracks in the rails or rungs, or any other defect in its structural integrity. Out of the 1,000 workers killed each year in construction accidents, 300 are killed in falls, and damaged or defective ladders contribute to a large number of these fatalities. Without adequate attention being paid to safety precautions and training on the construction site, something as simple and helpful as a ladder can become a deadly piece of equipment.
OSHA Regulations for the Prevention of Ladder Accidents
Although most construction workers and contractors are fully trained in safety precautions to prevent workplace accidents, even the best-run job site can because dangerous if overrun with defective equipment. To avoid injuries and fatalities caused by defective ladders and other construction equipment, OSHA has established the following safety regulations:
- Use the proper ladder for the task
- Have a competent person inspect the ladder for any defects before use
- Mark damaged or defective ladders for repair or replacement, or destroy them immediately
- Avoid using ladders with metal components near electrical work and overhead power lines
- Never load ladders beyond the maximum intended load
Common Injuries Caused by Defective Ladder Accidents
Whether a ladder is being used to scale a residential or commercial building, the expectations of the person using the ladder are the same. When these expectations are not met, such as is the case with a defective ladder, the consequences can be life-changing or even fatal. Some of the most common injuries caused by defective ladders include:
- Head injury
- Neck and back injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Liability Claims
Workers’ compensation benefits are available to construction workers who suffer injuries on the job, providing critical compensation for medical bills and loss of income. Death benefits are also available under workers’ compensation laws for the survivors of workers killed in construction accidents. In circumstances in which your injuries were caused by a third party not employed by your employer, such as is the case with some ladders of defective design or manufacture, you may have grounds to file a third-party liability claim for compensation. Third-party liability claims allow injured victims to seek additional compensation on top of workers’ compensation and, unlike workers’ compensation claims, third-party liability claims allow injured victims to seek full reimbursement for pain and suffering.
A Construction Accident Attorney Can Help
Construction accidents can be devastating, especially when they are caused by something as simple as a defective ladder. To avoid the unnecessary injury and death caused by defective ladders and other unsafe construction equipment, OSHA has implemented critical safety procedures, which it is up to employers and general contractors to follow. Unfortunately, when superiors cut corners and ignore safety protocol to save time and money, the construction workers are often the ones who suffer the consequences. If you or a loved one was injured in a construction accident caused by a defective ladder, consult a construction accident attorney for legal help. You may be entitled to life-saving benefits, which you can pursue by filing a workers’ compensation claim or third-party liability claim against the negligent party.