Another Day Another Lawsuit

ladder-fall-offThe Story

A volunteer in Canada was helping to paint a church when he fell off the stepladder. He sued the church, claiming the church was negligent and had violated Canada’s Health and Safety laws.

The Court Case

The court heard  testimony from two occupational health and safety experts.  The court rejected one testimony and accepted the other.  The accepted expert’s opinion was that the volunteer was not a “worker” by law and therefore the OSHA laws did not apply. He also said that the church did not actually violate any safety laws. The court decided that because the volunteer actually fell while installing trim, rather than while he was painting, the church was not liable for the accident.


Here’s the court’s conclusion to the case:

“The defendant provided a stable ladder, a flat and stable working surface, appropriate ladder use instruction and maintained general compliance observations over many weeks and hours . . .

“Even if it could be said that the tableau presented an objectively unreasonable risk of harm, it was the plaintiff who undertook this task of his own volition contrary to instructions from Jarvis.  He assumed the variation in risk.  The defendant asked for paint volunteers.  The plaintiff was not asked to install trim. This work was beyond Jarvis’ purview . . .”

Sources: Baltadjian v The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Alexandria, 2017 ONSC 61 (CanLII)

For more information, visit the Occupational Health & Safety Law blog at

This court case is interesting because other cases we looked at have sided with the victim. Instead this court sided with the church and found them innocent of any wrongdoing. Regardless of the court results, this accident was unfortunate. Please be safe whenever you are on a ladder and help those around you be safe as well.

Summer Ladder Safety

hot summer sunWith summer right around the corner, it is time to take a refresher course in summer ladder safety.


Hot summer days can bring some health risks while you are working on your ladder outside. Always stay hydrated and take a break if you start feeling dizzy or unwell.

Avoid the Hottest Time of Day

Noon until about three is the hottest part of the day and is the most dangerous time to do work outside. If possible, do your work in the morning or evening, and avoid that dangerous part of the day. If you must work during these hours, find ways to work in the shade. Also, always stay hydrated.

UV Rays

Sun protection is another key to ladder safety in the summer. When working  outside, it is important to protect yourself by wearing a hat and/or sunblock and finding other ways to protect yourself.

Check Your Ladder’s Temperature

In the hot weather, your ladder will get hot too. Whenever possible, have your ladder rest in the shade or indoors between uses. This will help prevent your ladder from getting too hot. Metal ladders are especially at risk for getting too hot.

Remember Safe Ladder Practices

It is important to take some special precautions in the summer, but it’s also important to remember the regular ladder safety tips we talk about. Maintain three points of contact, stand between the rails, set your ladder up on a level surface. These tips and the other safety practices we talk about in other posts are crucial to being safe not only in the summer, but also year-round.

Stay safe this summer!


Safety + Health’s Ladder Safety Tips

701f272289c9038f5a84c41cffa43650According to OSHA statistics, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Here are a couple considerations to make as you work on your ladder.

Here are Some Ladder “Best Practices”

  • Never stand on the top rung or top cap. Instead choose a ladder that is tall enough for the job.
  • Secure the base of the ladder.
  • Choose the right footwear.
  • If using an extension ladder, make sure the ladder is fully extended before climbing
  • Maintain three points of contact
  • Avoid carrying tools up and down the ladder. Instead, use a tool belt
  • Don’t put your ladder in front of an unlocked door

If you’re looking for more ladder safety tips, you can download OSHA’s booklet for workers to help you and your team be safer.

Ladder Accident at a Factory

India-flag-a4A worker in South India was killed and another worker was injured when they fell from a 40 foot ladder. They had been working on a hydraulic ladder when they tried to move the ladder while still on it. When the ladder moved, the workers fell and were both injured. The workers received head injuries and fractures. One of the workers passed away at the hospital.

How the Accident Could Have Been Prevented

Ladders should never be moved while people are on them. The best way to prevent an accident like this one would be to have the workers get off the ladder before moving it. If the workers would have been on solid ground, they would have been safe while the ladder was getting moved.

Our hearts go out to these workers and their families. Remember to be safe with your ladder and to always stand on the ground while you move it!

The Safety Stand-Down and Ladders

IMG_3565Why do we always talk about the Safety Stand-Down? But, what does the Stand-Down have to do with ladders? That’s what we’ll talk about in this post.

Why Ladders

Ladders are related to fall hazards and fall prevention, which is what the Stand-Down is all about. Ladder safety training teaches employees how to best use ladders as the tools they are, rather than having them become a fall hazard.

Why Training

Ladder Safety training is key to help preventing injuries and falls from ladders. Training is a great way to remind the workers what it takes to prevent a fall, which is one of the major reasons we support the Stand-Down.

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