Can I claim if I fall from a ladder at work?
Falls from ladders happen all too frequently. In October 2017, a 27-year-old man fell from a ladder on a building site in Baldwin’s Gate near Newcastle-under-Lyme. He was rushed to the major trauma centre at Royal Stoke University Hospital with major back and leg injuries.
In a tragic case in 2013, father-of-two David Shanks, died from a head injury after falling from a ladder at Greencore Grocery Ltd in Hull. Mr Shanks was a self-employed contractor and had been asked to wire new motors for a sugar-paste machine, requiring him to work three metres from the ground. He had one foot balanced on the top of a step-ladder and the other on an insecure lid, meaning he lost his balance and hit his head hard on the wall. The impact was so severe that he could not be resuscitated and died the following day in hospital. The court found that although there were adequate safety procedures in place, these were not followed, and ordered the company to pay £75,000 to the family of Mr Shanks.
Too easy to cut corners
In many cases, ladders are used when they are wholly unsuitable for the job at hand. By not properly assessing the risk and choosing the safest method of working from height (in other words ‘cutting corners’), employees are placed at considerable risk of injury. Working from height is strictly controlled under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) which clearly states that all work at height must be:
- Fully planned and organised
- Undertaken by people trained and competent for the task
- Properly assessed and the correct equipment chosen
- Free from the risk of falling onto a nearby fragile surface
- Undertaken using equipment that is regularly maintained and checked by competent persons
Can a ladder be used when working at height?
Under the law, ladders may be used, if following a complete safety risk assessment, it is deemed the risk is low, and the term of use is short. The ladder must then be used by someone who is competent to do so; specifically, they must have been trained or have received safety instructions.
How can the risk of fall be reduced when using a ladder?
Before using the ladder, it should be checked for any defects, including the following:
- Stiles (the vertical parts of a ladder)
- Locking Mechanisms
- Platform (in the case of a step-ladder)
- Steps & treads
It is important the correct height, type (e.g. extension, telescopic, step, combination, warehouse) and class (e.g. Class 1, Class EN131 and Class III) of ladder is selected for the job in hand. The EU is due to implement a newer version of Class EN131 in January 2018 which will differentiate between ladders for use in the workplace (professional) and those that are not (non-professional).
Once the correct ladder is selected, it must be used safely. The ladder should be placed at a 75-degree angle, on a safe non-slippery surface, not overloaded and secured to ensure it cannot slip. You should never carry items when climbing, attempt to extend the ladder while on it, work on the top three rungs or overstretch. A ‘stand-off’ device may be required to ensure a safe ‘resting point’, especially when working on places with an overhang (e.g. around guttering on a roof).
Can I claim if I have been injured due to a fall from a ladder at work?
If the accident was due to the failure of your employer, or another company or person, you might be able to claim compensation for any damages you have incurred. There is a fixed time-limit of three years by which to make a claim; this is the time from the accident, or when you had knowledge that you had been injured. When you instruct one of our experienced workplace injury solicitors, we will collate your statement of events, witness statements, expert medical opinion, photographs and any other evidence which shows the company’s negligence caused your fall. If you are unsure whether you should or can make a claim, our solicitors will be able to quickly confirm if you have a case.
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims. If you have been seriously injured following a fall from a ladder in your workplace, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our Online Claim Assessment.