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Researchers Count 113 Work-Related Ladder Fatalities in 2011

A paper published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report highlighted data analyzed from several injury surveillance systems and calculated there were 113 fatal falls from ladders, an estimated 15,460 non-fatal falls, and 34,000 non-fatal injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2011.

The data revealed that ladder fall injuries (LFIs) represent a large portion of preventable injuries for workers and the need for increased workplace safety measures.

“Men and Hispanics had higher rates of fatal and nonfatal LFIs compared with women and non-Hispanic whites and persons of other races/ethnicities,” according to their paper. “LFI rates increased with age, except for injuries treated in EDs. Fatality rates were substantially higher for self-employed workers (0.30 per 100,000 FTE workers) than salary/wage workers (0.06 per 100,000 FTE workers). Establishments with the fewest employees had the highest fatality rates. The construction industry had the highest LFI rates compared with all other industries. Across all industries, the highest fatal and nonfatal LFI rates were in the following two occupation groups: construction and extraction (e.g., mining) occupations, followed by installation, maintenance, and repair occupations. Head injuries were implicated in about half of fatal injuries (49%), whereas most nonfatal injuries involved the upper and lower extremities for employer-reported and ED-treated nonfatal injuries.”

For nonfatal falls, nearly 90% were from heights below 16 feet, and fall heights 6-10 feet were most common, representing half of the ED-treated LFIs. For fatal falls, fall heights of 6-10 feet were the most common, but only accounted for 28% of all fatalities.

The paper included suggestions to employers that will help prevent ladder falls:
•    Plan the work to reduce or eliminate the need for ladder use. Finish as much work as possible on the ground.
•    Provide alternative, safer equipment for extended work at elevation.
•    Provide proper and inspected ladders that are well-matched to employee weight, task and location.
•    Provide proper accessories for safe ladder use.
•    Provide adequate training and information to employees.

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