ladder accident robert barr

Robert Barr and his family

One of the things we as safety professionals talk about is how every person who falls from a ladder is a real person with real relationships. It is important to humanize statistics so we don’t become callous to them.

The following news story was posted in a New Zealand newspaper in 2014 and is a reminder that workplace injuries impact real people and real families.

Freak Ladder Accident

A 31 year old builder accidentally shot himself in the chest with a nail gun while he climbed down a ladder.

“I’ve only heard what people have told me but it’s from a really good source,” said a local community member. “He came down off a ladder, slipped and the nail gun hit him on the shoulder.”

The man ended up passing away from his injuries.


Source: The New Zealand Herald

What We Can Learn

While we don’t know all the details from the accident, we can still use this accident as a lesson. Mr. Barr slipped either as he was descending the ladder or shortly after getting off. In order to prevent slipping, make sure to wipe down the ladder and get rid of any slippery substances. Also, make sure the area around the ladder is cleared to prevent tripping hazards.

Next, we have the issue of the nail gun. It sounds like he was carrying the gun and then it went off when he slipped. To prevent this type of incident, keep supplies in a tool belt or holster.

If these two simple precautions would have been followed, the story might have a different, less tragic ending. My heart goes out to this man’s family and friends.