Category: Construction (page 1 of 2)

Working With Ladders: Construction Site Safety

Emergency-signToday, we have a guest post from John M. O’Brien & Associates, a group that tries to raise awareness about the safety issues of working with ladders on construction sites. Here is the post:

Ladders are often the first tool workers choose when performing tasks at elevation. Although taken for granted because they’re so easy to use, ladder-related accidents are the cause of a significant number of workplace accidents. Selecting the wrong type of ladder for the job, setting up the ladder improperly, or not working safely on the ladder are responsible for 20 percent of the fall injuries occurring each year in the U.S.[1] In order to avoid ladder accidents, employers are required to train their employees on how to use ladders, ladder hazards and ladder capacities.

Ladder-related accidents

From cuts, scrapes and bruises to serious injuries, such as broken bones and brain damage, to death, ladder accidents present a significant risk to the user. Ladder use should be approached with caution, ensuring all key practices are followed. It is when recommended safety measures are ignored, that injuries occur. Ladder accidents often result in serious and needless harm for the worker and in the employers being held financially responsible for any accidents caused by their disregard for safety.

These verdicts and settlements obtained by John M. O’Brien & Associates illustrate some of the most common ladder accident scenarios:

Improperly set up ladder

We had a case with a fire alarm technician inspecting the fire alarms at a construction site. The technician was injured after falling from an extension ladder, provided by the construction site supervisor. As a result of falling from the ladder, the technician broke both feet, suffered other orthopedic injuries and a compression fracture in his spine.

Mr. O’Brien argued in court that the supervisor who set up the ladder for the fire alarm technician had done it incorrectly and he had not inspected or maintained the ladder, violating OSHA regulations. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the injured worker. The construction site had to pay him for damages, lost wages, past medical costs, and future medical costs.

This case gives us a few reminders. Many accidents occur as a result of ladders being put on slick or loose surfaces that can contribute to ladder movement. A ladder set up with hazardous surroundings is also a common cause of accidents. Always inspect your ladder before you use it and before you let others use it. Also, train your team and any other visitors who will be using a ladder on how to use it safely.

Selecting the wrong type of ladder for the job

Our client was a worker helping on some repairs when he fell from the ladder to the sidewalk. The ladder had been selected by his co-workers, was too short for the specific task and had not been secured. The worker fell while coming down the ladder, suffered major injuries and had to go to the hospital. He is now unable to work and still suffers from the accident. The court awarded our client $1.1 million dollars, compensation covering medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The safety issues from this case are pretty obvious. Select a ladder that has an adequate height and weight capacity for the specific task and make sure it is secured.

Using a damaged or worn ladder

We had another case for a worker injured in a ladder accident. Our client was at a job site, about to climb a ladder, when he realized it was in bad shape. He told the supervisor who sent him home. When he returned to the job site, he climbed a ladder that appeared safe. However, the spreader bar was cracked and gave way, causing him to fall eight feet to a concrete floor, fracturing his leg, and requiring corrective surgery.

This case is a good reminder of the importance of providing safe equipment and taking off the site ladders that are in bad shape. Loose or missing rungs, split stiles, and spoiled or absent feet are common reasons for damaged ladders causing accidents. In the case we presented, there was an issue with the spreader bar that could have been caught with an inspection.

Workplace safety measures and training for the selection, safe use and care of the most frequently used ladders are meant to protect people working with ladders on construction sites. John M. O’Brien & Associates strongly advises employers to ensure they are putting safety first and protecting their employees against safety hazards while on the job.



stopconstructionfalls.comAbout a year ago, I wrote a little feature for a site called, but, with so many new subscribers, I thought it would be good to do another feature post. is a website designed to help those who work in construction prevent falls and the injuries that come from falling. This site is incredibly useful for anyone who works in the construction industry, but also has great resources for workers in any industry with falling hazards.

About the Site is a website developed by NIOSH and the Center for Construction Research and Training. Included in the website are loads of pages with information and links to valuable resources. The goal of the site is to distribute information on preventing falls in the workplace. The website also has success stories from organizations that have successfully had a “Stand-Down.” This section also has some ideas you can incorporate with your team to promote fall prevention. There is also a page dedicated to creating a map with all the construction fatalities across the United States. The map adds a visual component to the numbers that are often thrown around.

Valuable Resources

Another cool element to this site is the Campaign Partners page. On this page, you find various organizations and businesses that have partnered with to distribute fall prevention and protection information. The site also has videos, campaign materials, handouts, and materials for those who work on ladders.

Overall, I think is a great resource for any safety officer. Do you have a site with resources you find valuable?

1 World Trade Center Construction & Accidents

freedom3n-2-webLast fall, I read this article about the 1 World Trade Center Construction and the various accidents that took place during construction, many of them going unreported. I’ve thought about this article a lot over the last year and decided I would write a post about it this week, especially since the 14th anniversary of the attacks are this week.

There is one story from the article that really stands out. A man was told to climb a tall, rickety ladder in the rain. After protesting, the man climbed the ladder, since his job depended on it. As the man descended, he lost his grip and he fell to the bottom, his shoulder scraping against some rebar that was left pointing up at the bottom of the ladder.

While this man is lucky to be alive, his recovery hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park.  He suffered four herniated discs, a concussion, headaches, short-term memory loss and a fractured shoulder. To help him recover, the man spent four months in rehab. He has not been able to return to work since.

The main focus of this article was how injuries weren’t reported to OSHA, but there are some underlying issues that I think are even more serious.

In the article, the man says he felt like he would lose his job unless he climbed the ladder. No worker should feel like he or she would lose his job by being safe. Instead workers should feel like their jobs are safer when they are focusing on safety. Supervisors on job sites need to respect their workers. If the man’s boss had listened to him and replaced the ladder, the terrible accident could have been prevented.

Let us learn from the mistakes of the 1 World Trade Center, and work to make our workplaces safer.

Extra Resources

resourcesThe main goal of the Hub is to provide resources to you as safety professionals to help you with your job. In this post, we will explore some of the best outside resources we have found to help with the training. We’ve mentioned most of these at least once in various posts, but here is a list with the sites we have found the most valuable.

Our List of Resources

American Ladder Institute

This website is a great resource for anyone who works on or trains those who work on ladders. The website has various safely pages including one for basic ladder safety, one for video safety training, links to other resources and a way to order a training DVD. This website also has ladder standards and information from ANSI. Overall, it’s a great resource to check out.


OSHA has some great information on their website as well. They have all the required ladder safety guidelines. They also have instructions (with pictures) on a ladder’s proper use. OSHA also has great, downloadable handouts.  Since OSHA is one of the ladder safety enforcers, they are a great place to look for ladder safety tips.

This site was put together with fall prevention tips for those who work in construction. This site is full of great tips and other resources to help train on fall prevention. There are tips for using for both ladders and scaffolds. There are also tips for working on roofs. In addition to the safety tips, there are a couple of informational pages, including a couple of images showing the number of construction falls in the US in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Safety Blogs

The Hub is just one of many blogs that has tips for ladder safety. Other sites with great resources are OH&S Magazine, Blog 4 Safety, Safety at Work Blog and the Safety Care. There other blogs not included in this list as well. If you just search ladder safety blogs or work safety blogs, a huge list will come up.

These are the resources we find the most valuable at Little Giant. If you have time, take a few minutes to check them out and find some information to help you and your team! – A Great Resource!

stopconstructionfalls.comEvery now and again, I run across a great resource for training and education. Most of the time, I want to share this great resource with others who might find it helpful.  I stumbled on the website a few months ago, but was reminded of it again recently.


The website has some great tips for those who work in the construction industry as well as anyone who deals with protecting against falls. The website has a great section explaining the goals of its fall prevention campaign which are:

-PLAN ahead to get the job done safely

-PROVIDE the right equipment

-TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

The website also has information about upcoming events. For example, back in June, OSHA sponsored a “Stand Down” event to bring awareness to fall prevention. In the events section, the website included information about the stand-down.

Stop Construction Falls also has a section for training and other resources. In this section, there are training resources for using ladders and scaffolds. There is also training for climbing roofs. In the ladder section, there is information for OSHA and a fall prevention fact sheet. There is also a link to the NIOSH ladder safety app, the app that helps you get your ladder’s angle correct. There are also tips for people teaching about ladder safety, toolbox talks and videos. These are just a few of the great resources listed on the site.

Another cool element is the fatality maps. You can see how fatalities have increased or increased over the last three years. The maps can be great for safety professionals to remind us why we do what we do. It is also a great reminder for why we need to continue training and working people on ladder safety and fall prevention. Make sure you take a few minutes to check out!

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