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Tips for preventing ladder-related accidents

The American Ladder Institute designated March 2019 as National Ladder Safety Month, and it can serve as a good reminder to many in Pennsylvania, whether employers or employees, of the dangers associated with ladders. More than 300 people die in ladder-related accidents every year. The following are some tips for reducing the number of fatalities and injuries involving ladders.

The first tip is to reduce the weight of ladders. This is because the most common ladder-related injuries are strains and sprains caused by moving and setting ladders. Advances in engineering design and in the use of fiberglass-resin composites has allowed the weight of extension ladders, for example, to be reduced by up to 25 percent without compromising their strength.

A second tip is to train workers to use the right ladder for a given job. Some use ladders that are too short, leading them to climb on the top rung, while others may lean a stepladder against the wall as if it were an extension ladder. Besides proper training, the use of multipurpose ladders can prevent these mistakes, too.

Employers should also add levelers to ladders on uneven ground (but take into account the added weight). Retractable wide-base levelers allow for great side-to-side stability, though workers should be discouraged from over-reaching. They should be trained to keep their belt buckle between the side rails.

Safety training and innovative product design cannot eliminate all hazards, of course, but employees who are injured through no fault of the employer's can still be covered for various expenses through the workers' compensation program. By filing for these benefits, victims will be waiving their right to sue their employer for the same incident in the future. Still, their employer may deny payment, so victims may want to hire a lawyer. A lawyer might be helpful for the appeals process.

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