Top causes of accidents

The more aware one is about the most common causes for accidents, the easier it is to avoid them.The top five most common causes of ladder-related accidents are:

  • Loss of stability
  • Handling and setting up
  • Slipping, tripping and falling
  • Mechanical failure
  • Electrical hazards
How to prevent the most common ladder accidents.How to prevent the most common ladder accidents.

Loss of stability

A leaning ladder rests on two surfaces: the wall and the ground or base. Fully 75% of all ladder accidents involve the ladder slipping on one these two surfaces: either the bottom slides out, or the top slides sideways. Standing ladder accidents are similarly dominated by a single sort of mishap: the ground upon which the ladder is set is uneven, or else so weak that it gives way.

Common causes of leaning ladder accidents

Other common stability safety issues involve:

  • Weather conditions, including wind (for obvious reasons), and rain, which can increase the risk of slippage
  • Unexpected impact with the ladder—such as door, vehicle or passerby
  • Too many heavy or bulky materials at height
  • Standing beyond the highest safe point, which is 3 to 4 steps below the top of the ladder

Handling and setting up

Improperly carried ladders can impact people or property en route to set-up, and a falling ladder can cause serious injury to someone on the ground. Ladders are large and awkward tools to transport, carry, set up and take down. Special care is always required when:

  • Transferring the ladder to the work position;
  • Erecting and dismantling the ladder;
  • Carrying work items and material up the ladder.
Handling and setting up leaning ladders

Slipping, tripping and falling

A great many ladder accidents happen through easily preventable human error and unsafe user practices. Inappropriate footwear is a surprisingly frequent cause of slipping, tripping and falling while working at height. Always wear rubber-bottomed work boots or other appropriate footwear so that each step you take is safe and secure. Other unsafe practices include climbing a ladder two rungs at a time, trying to move or adjust the ladder while at height, and sliding down the stiles rather than descending properly and with care.

Avoid slipping and falling from ladders

Mechanical failure

Never assume that because the ladder was safely climbed the last time that there’s no need to examine it this time. Damage may have gone unnoticed last time or manifested between then and now. Common mechanical failures include damaged rungs or stiles. Overloading a ladder can exacerbate weaknesses or even cause structurally sound ladders to fail. Everything related to the mechanics of ladder safety is covered under “Inspecting the Ladder”.

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Electrical hazards

Ladders should never be positioned too close to electrical equipment such as overhead power lines. The concentration required to properly do one’s job can temporarily reduce awareness of objects outside the field of one’s vision. If one of those things is a power line, serious injury can result. Never set up your ladder near any electrical source or hazard. This is especially true for aluminium ladders, which obviously conduct electricity and could be dangerous if too close to a live power source. Additionally, ladders set-up without proper care can easily damage electrical equipment such as overhead lights, covers and protective insulation.