be awareToday, we ran across a news story from Edwardsville, Ill. In the story, a woman is suing a contracting company for leaving a ladder in poor shape at the job site. The story was a great reminder of the importance to be aware.

I don’t have any input on who is correct with this lawsuit or who will win in the end, especially since the contracting company is saying the ladder was stolen. I do, however, have a couple of things all parties should keep in mind in the future.

Make Sure All Ladders Are in Proper Working Order

According to the contracting company, the ladder was stolen, and we don’t know the condition of the ladder before it was taken. Regardless of the details of this specific situation, it is important to make sure all ladders are in good shape. We have numerous posts about ladder inspections and how to make sure the ladder is safe to use. Inspecting ladders regularly is crucial in preventing injuries. If a ladder is deemed unsafe, it should be marked and taken out of service immediately.

Make sure Safe Ladders are the only Ladders available

If the ladder was stolen and brought to the YMCA, the organization really should have checked the ladder when it showed up on the site. Having dangerous ladders available is a common problem for companies. Some organizations, such as restaurants and schools, have ladders attached to the side of buildings, creating a definite safety risk. Like the schools and restaurants, the YMCA is responsible for making sure they take proper safety precautions with safety equipment on their site.

To the Climber: Be Aware

The woman from the article fell off the ladder and blamed the damaged ladder for her fall. While either the contracting company or the YMCA could have checked the ladder and taken it down, the woman didn’t check the ladder before she climbed it either. If she would have inspected it, she may have seen the safety concerns and chosen not to climb it.

Unfortunately, the story has no real happy ending. The woman is injured. The contracting company could face damages. The YMCA could still face some legal issues as well. It is so important to take safety seriously and to train your people to do the same.