Fallen off a ladder and making a personal injury claim - here's how

Fallen off a ladder and making a personal injury claim – here’s how

Using ladders at work can be hazardous if proper precautions are not taken. Ladder-related accidents are a common cause of workplace injuries. In the UK, falls from ladders account for almost a third of all injuries and cost the UK economy £60 million every year.

In the USA, in 2020, there were 161 fatal work injuries from which ladders were the primary source. There were 105 deaths specifically from movable ladders in 2020 and 5 deaths from fixed ladders.

What are the most common mistakes when using ladders at work?

  • Falls: Falls from ladders are the most common and serious risk associated with ladder use. If a ladder is not properly positioned, secured, or used incorrectly, workers can fall from significant heights, resulting in serious injuries or even fatalities.
  • Incorrect ladder choice: Using the wrong type or size of ladder for a specific task can lead to accidents. Different tasks require different ladder types (e.g., step ladders, extension ladders, platform ladders) with appropriate load capacities and heights.
  • Unstable placement: Ladders must be placed on stable and level surfaces. If they are set up on uneven or slippery ground, there is a high risk of the ladder tipping over, causing a fall.
  • Overreaching: Overreaching while on a ladder can cause a loss of balance, leading to falls. Workers should always keep their centre of gravity within the ladder's side rails and not stretch too far to reach objects
  • Poor maintenance: Damaged or worn-out ladders can break or collapse while in use. Regular inspections and maintenance of ladders are crucial to ensure they are in safe working condition.
  • Using ladders in adverse weather conditions: Rain, wind, or snow can make ladders slippery and unstable. Using ladders in adverse weather conditions increases the risk of accidents.
  • Carrying heavy loads: Carrying heavy tools or materials while climbing a ladder can disrupt balance and stability, making falls more likely.
  • Improper climbing techniques: Workers may not use proper climbing techniques, such as maintaining three points of contact (two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand) on the ladder at all times, which increases the risk of falling.
  • Lack of training and awareness: Workers who are not adequately trained in ladder safety may not be aware of the risks and precautions associated with ladder use.
  • Rushing and taking shortcuts: In a hurry to complete a task, workers may skip safety steps, such as setting up the ladder correctly or securing it in place, which can lead to accidents.

To mitigate these dangers, employers should provide proper training on ladder safety, conduct regular inspections of ladders, ensure employees use the right ladder for the job, and establish a culture of safety in the workplace. It's essential for workers to be aware of the risks and to follow safety guidelines diligently when using ladders to prevent accidents and injuries.

What rules should apply when using ladders at work?

Laws and regulations related to the use of ladders at work in Northern Ireland primarily fall under the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 and its associated regulations. Here are some key aspects of ladder use in Northern Ireland:

  • Risk Assessment: Employers in Northern Ireland are required to conduct a risk assessment for tasks involving ladders. This assessment should identify the risks associated with ladder use and determine if ladders are the appropriate equipment for the job.
  • Training and Competence: Employers are obligated to ensure that workers are adequately trained and competent to use ladders safely. Training should cover ladder selection, setup, and safe use
  • Ladder Selection: The choice of ladder should be appropriate for the task. Ladders should be in good condition and have an adequate load-bearing capacity and able to support the worker.
  • Ladder Setup: Ladders must be set up on stable and level surfaces. Proper techniques for securing and stabilizing ladders should be followed. Ladders must be footed and where appropriate, anti-slipping mats or grip devices must be used. The recommended ladder angle is normally about 75.5 degrees from the horizontal providing the best balance between stability and ease of use. Where necessary, ladders should be securely tied, clamped, or otherwise prevented from slipping during use. If tying or clamping is not possible, a second person may be needed to hold the ladder in place.
  • Ground Conditions: Consideration should be given to ground conditions. Ladders should not be used on slippery, uneven, or unstable surfaces. If necessary, ground preparation may be required to ensure a stable base for the ladder
  • Footwear: Workers should wear appropriate footwear with non-slip soles when using ladder.
  • Inspection and Maintenance: Ladders should be inspected regularly for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Damaged ladders should be taken out of service and repaired or replaced.
  • Working at Height Regulations: In addition to general health and safety legislation, the Work at Height Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005 may also apply. These regulations provide specific guidance on working at height, which includes ladder use.
  • Alternative Access: Consider whether alternative access equipment, such as scaffolding or a mobile elevated work platform, may be more suitable for the task.
  • Fall Protection: In some situations, fall protection measures such as guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, or other safety equipment may be required in addition to using ladders.
  • Supervision and Monitoring: Employers should monitor and supervise ladder use to ensure that safe practices are followed.

How can falls from ladders at work be prevented?

Preventing falls from ladders while at work is essential to ensuring workplace safety. Here are several key steps and safety measures you can take to help prevent falls from ladders:

  • Proper Training: Ensure that workers who use ladders are adequately trained in ladder safety. Training should cover ladder selection, setup, safe climbing techniques, and recognizing hazards.
  • Select the Right Ladder: Choose the appropriate ladder for the specific task. Consider factors like ladder type (e.g., step ladder, extension ladder), load capacity, and ladder height. Using the right ladder for the job is critical
  • Inspect Ladders Regularly: Inspect ladders before each use for any signs of damage, wear, or defects. Damaged ladders should be taken out of service and repaired or replaced.
  • Position Ladders Correctly: Set up ladders on stable and level surfaces. Make sure the ladder's feet are secure, and use ladder levelers or anti-slip devices if necessary.
  • Maintain Three Points of Contact: When climbing or descending a ladder, maintain three points of contact (two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand) with the ladder at all times. Do not overreach.
  • Secure the Top and Bottom: For extension ladders, secure the top to prevent it from sliding, and secure the bottom to prevent the base from slipping or kicking out.
  • Use Fall Protection: Depending on the height and task, consider using fall protection equipment such as a personal fall arrest system or guardrails.
  • Weather Considerations: Be cautious when using ladders in adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or strong winds. Slippery conditions can increase the risk of falls.
  • Keep the Work Area Clear: Ensure that the area around the ladder is clear of obstacles and hazards. This includes tools, materials, and debris.
  • Buddy System: Whenever possible, have a colleague act as a spotter or support to ensure ladder stability, especially when working at greater heights.
  • Use Ladder Accessories: Consider using ladder accessories like ladder mats, stabilizers, or ladder levelers to improve stability.
  • Good Lighting: Poor lighting is another common cause of ladder accidents. Ladder accidents are more likely to occur in poorly lit areas, where workers cannot see the ladder or the ground clearly. This can lead to tripping hazards, missteps, or other accidents that can cause injury.
  • Regular Maintenance: Ladders should be regularly inspected and maintained. Ensure that they remain in good condition and that any defects are promptly addressed.
  • Risk Assessment: Conduct a risk assessment for tasks involving ladder use to identify potential hazards and implement control measures.
  • Training Refreshers: Periodically provide refresher training on ladder safety to reinforce best practices and update workers on any changes in safety regulations.

By following these safety measures and promoting a culture of safety in the workplace, you can significantly reduce the risk of falls from ladders while at work, ultimately protecting the health and well-being of employees.

What are my employer’s legal responsibilities at work?

All employers have a duty of care to their employees to ensure that that they have a safe working environment. If employees are exposed to potential risks to their safety at work, then the employer must ensure that they take whatever steps are necessary to remove them from such dangers (for example by supplying personal protective equipment). Employers are expected to carry out risk assessments to determine how great the dangers are and what steps can be taken to lessen or prevent same.

If employers fail to recognise the risks employees face or fail to take steps to prevent employees being harmed, then employees will have a claim for compensation against such employers.

If an employee commits a wrongful act or causes harm to another person while carrying out their job duties or acting on behalf of their employer, the employer may be held legally liable for the employee's actions, even if the employer did not directly participate in or endorse the wrongful conduct. For instance, if an employee negligently did not foot a ladder properly and the employee on the ladder fell from it, then the employer will be held liable to compensate the injured employee. This is called vicarious liability.

How long do I have to take a claim for personal injury in Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland, the limitation period for personal injury claims is typically three years from the date of the accident or the date when the injury occurred. This means that you generally have three years from the incident's date to issue proceedings in a personal injury claim.

However, there are some exceptions and nuances to consider:

Date of Knowledge: In cases where the injury or its cause was not immediately apparent at the time of the accident, the limitation period may start from the date when you first became aware of your injury and its connection to the accident. This is known as the "date of knowledge."

Under age of 18: if an injured party is a minor (under 18 years old) at the time of the accident, the three-year limitation period typically begins on their 18th birthday. So, they have until their 21st birthday to file a claim.

Mental Capacity: If the injured party lacked the mental capacity to make legal decisions at the time of the accident, the limitation period may not start until they regain capacity.

Death Claims: In cases where a personal injury results in death, the limitation period for the deceased's estate to make a claim is typically three years from the date of death.

Extension of Time: In exceptional circumstances, the court may have the discretion to extend the limitation period, but such extensions are not common and are granted sparingly.

It's crucial to consult with a solicitor as soon as possible after an accident. They can provide you with accurate advice on the limitation period that applies to your specific case and help you take the necessary steps to pursue a claim if it is within the statutory time frame. Waiting too long to file a claim can result in the loss of your right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. Do not delay in seeking legal advice.

What steps should I take if I fall from a ladder at work?

If you have fallen from a ladder, it's important to take the following steps to ensure your well-being, report the incident, and protect your rights:

Seek Immediate Medical Attention (if necessary):

If you are injured and require medical attention, prioritize your health and safety. Get medical assistance as soon as possible, either by calling 999 (or 111) for emergencies or by seeking treatment from a designated first-aid provider or medical professional on the worksite.

Report the Accident to Your Supervisor/Employer:

Notify your immediate supervisor, manager, or employer about the accident as soon as possible, even if your injuries seem minor. Provide details of the accident, where it occurred, and any witnesses. Ensure that the incident is documented.

Document the Incident:

Write down your account of the accident, including the date, time, location, circumstances, and any contributing factors. Include descriptions of injuries sustained and any safety hazards that may have played a role.

Gather Witness Statements:

If there were any witnesses to the accident, ask them to provide statements about what they saw. Witness statements can be valuable in determining liability and supporting your claim.

Take Photographs:

If it's safe to do so and if you have access to a camera or smartphone, take photographs of the accident scene, any hazards, and your injuries. Visual evidence can be important if you need to prove the conditions at the time of the incident.

Request an Accident Report:

Your employer may have a standard accident report form that you should complete. Ensure that this report is filled out accurately and thoroughly. Keep a copy for your records.

Consult with a solicitor:

If you have been injured, consult with a solicitor to understand your legal rights and any potential claim.

How is my compensation assessed?

We divide compensation into a number of headings:

  • Compensation for pain, suffering and the effect the injury has had on a client’s life (what lawyers call “general damages”). The exact amount depends on the severity and extent of the injury and its impact. This will include physical and emotional loss, suffering and pain and compensation for loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Any loss of earnings, past and into the future, including all job related benefits and pension loss (what lawyers call “special damages”). If your injuries have reduced your ability to work you will be entitled to the difference between what you would have earned but for the accident and what you can now earn.
  • If someone has had to stop or reduce their work because it was necessary to look after you then the claim will include their loss of earnings, past and into the future, including all job related benefits and pension loss.
  • Cost of all medical expenses, past and future. This will include hospital bills and medication costs.
  • Cost of all therapy and rehabilitative treatment (including occupational therapy), past and future.
  • Cost of any nursing and domestic assistance, past and future.
  • Cost of any adaptions to property or the cost of new housing.
  • Cost of any adaptions to a vehicle or the cost of a vehicle or travel or other costs.
  • Any other expenses.

Will my case go to Court?

Few cases go to a full court hearing. Most cases are dealt with or settled by us without the necessity of a full hearing.

Why should you instruct the Kearney Law Group?

We, at the Kearney Law Group, are ready to assist you and have the knowledge and expertise you need to make a successful claim for compensation. We have an expert team ready to deal with your claim for personal injury arising from your fall from a ladder. We will ensure you recover compensation for your injuries and loss, swiftly and professionally.

We only do personal injury law and are experts at it.

For further assistance please ring us at 02890 912 938 or email us on [email protected] or fill in our contact form

The content of this blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice. No solicitor/client relationship or duty of care or liability of any nature shall exist or arise between the Kearney Law Group and you and we refer you to our disclaimer on our website.

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