Construction workers in Illinois face an endless list of safety hazards each day that they are on site. Many of the risks can be mitigated by taking precautions and complying with Occupational Safety and Health regulations. Some of the most common on-the-job accidents that lead to workers’ compensation benefits claims involve ladders, and safety advisers say construction workers must consider gravity even before they step onto the first rung of a ladder.
A ladder’s placement is crucial. It must stand on a firm base that is not wet or slippery, and extension or straight ladders must never be placed to lean against an unstable surface or a window. The angle at which a straight ladder is placed is crucial, and strict OSHA regulations must be followed to determine how far the foot of a ladder must be set from the wall. Using the ladder to get access to an elevated work area or a roof requires it to extend no less than three feet above the work level, and it must be firmly secured to the surface that supports it.
Many ladder falls result from workers who rush, take shortcuts or who are complacent. Such errors include placing a ladder over a door without locking the door or posting warning signs, climbing up the side of a ladder, or carrying tools or building materials with both hands while climbing the ladder. One hand and both feet, or both hands and one foot should be on the ladder at all times.
Ladder falls can cause catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or spinal damages — even from the second or third rung. It is often the object that stops the fall that causes the damage, like falling from the third rung and striking the head against a hard object. Fortunately, the Illinois workers’ compensation program allows injured workers to claim benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages, and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist with the navigation of the claims process.