In 1995, a study by Olof Axelsson and Ned Carter profiled 85 people who were injured in ladder accidents. The study detailed how the accidents happened and how the people were affected in both the short term and long term.

The most common reason for a straight ladder accident was the base sliding out. Stepladder accidents were most likely to be caused by tipping. Of these 85 people, all but one missed time from work, with an average of 45 days missed. The following table shows a breakdown of the type of injuries:

It is interesting to note that over half of these incidents were falls from less than six feet. The authors explain: “Despite the low falls, broken bones and sprains/strains occurred in 33 and 31 cases, respectively. Bruises and tissue wounds occurred in twelve cases, with cuts occurring in the remaining nine cases. Sick-leave duration associated with these injuries is shown in table 3. Nearly 40% of the victims were absent for more than a month. Half of the victims experienced continuing, possibly permanent, disability.”  The table below shows how much time was lost as a result of these injuries.

Although this information is almost two decades old the results are still relevant today as examples of the dangers associated with ladder accidents. Even the possibility that half of all ladder accidents could result in some form of permanent disability is staggering to say the least.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Bureau estimates 724,000 people required medical treatment for a ladder-related injury in 2012.  It’s obvious that the situation is far more severe than most people are aware.

The reality is that many ladder accidents could be prevented if people knew just how dangerous certain practices were. For example, I can’t over-emphasize how important it is to follow OSHA’s rule that a straight ladder must lean at a 75.5-degree angle.

The study by Axelsson and Carter showed that 14% percent of accidents occurred when a straight ladder was set up between 71 and 75 degrees and only 14% versus 31% when the ladder was set up between 66 and 70 degrees.

More often than not an accident can be avoided simply by providing the proper training. I encourage you to find ways to improve the safety of your company in any way possible.

For a copy of the study done by Axelsson and Carter or for more information on ladder safety training, contact me at dave@ladders.com.