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Ladder Accidents on Construction Sites | Causes and Resulting Injuries

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Written By:
Tor Hoerman
Tor Hoerman

Attorney Tor Hoerman, admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association since 1995 and The Missouri Bar since 2009, specializes nationally in mass tort litigations. Locally, Tor specializes in auto accidents and a wide variety of personal injury incidents occuring in Illinois and Missouri.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and attorneys at TorHoerman Law and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Tor Hoerman, you can do so here.

TorHoerman Law does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

An Overview of Ladder Accidents on Construction Sites, Possible Causes, and Related Injuries

On this page, we’ll discuss Ladder Accidents on Construction Sites, how these accidents occur and the injuries they can cause, how injured construction workers can seek compensation, and much more.

Ladder Accidents: A Leading Cause of Serious Injuries for Construction Workers

The construction industry is fast, dynamic, and hazardous, making construction accidents inevitable.

With 1,056 workplace fatalities in 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that construction has the second-highest number of fatal occupational injuries out of all industries.

From slips and falls to crane accidents, construction sites are full of risks.

One of the most prevalent yet underestimated risks construction workers face is a ladder accident.

Ladders are fundamental tools in construction activities but can also be a leading cause of construction injuries.

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From minor bruises to severe and even fatal accidents, ladder-related injuries can have long-term effects on construction workers’ lives and careers.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a ladder accident on a construction site, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.

TorHoerman Law is here to help.

Contact us for a free consultation — you can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for the construction accident lawsuit instantly.

Table of Contents

Ladder Accidents in Construction

Ladder accidents are alarmingly common on construction sites, posing a significant threat to the well-being of workers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), ladders were responsible for 161 fatal occupational injuries in 2020, including 105 fatalities from movable ladders and five deaths from fixed ladders.

BLS also mentioned the ladders caused 5,370 nonfatal injuries in 2020.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also reported that violations related to ladders in construction were the third most cited standard in 2022, with a staggering 2,449 violations.

These statistics reveal the seriousness of ladder accidents on construction sites and how crucial it is to address this issue.

These incidents cause harm to individuals but also result in considerable financial burdens due to medical expenses and lost wages.

The incidents also significantly impact construction companies, causing lost productivity, workplace disruptions, and project delays.

Taking necessary precautions and preventing ladder accidents on construction sites is of utmost importance.

Common Causes of Ladder Accidents

Many factors can contribute to ladder accidents on construction sites.

Common Causes of Ladder Accidents may include:

  • Improper Ladder Setup
  • Overloading
  • Defective or Damaged Ladders
  • Unsuitable Ladders
  • Lack of Safety Protocols
  • Environmental Factors

Improper Ladder Setup

Proper ladder setup is paramount to ensuring the stability and safety of ladders on construction sites.

Many accidents occur due to inadequate placement, positioning, and setup.

Uneven surfaces, unstable ground, and lack of secure anchoring are common factors contributing to accidents.

Failure to secure the ladder’s base, extend it to the proper height, or lock it in place can also result in falls and injuries.


Ladders have specific weight limits that users must follow strictly.

Overloading a ladder with excessive weight can cause it to become unbalanced, tip over, or collapse, leading to falls and injuries.

Workers usually also carry power tools or equipment while climbing the ladder, further increasing the risk of accidents.

Defective or Damaged Ladders

Construction workers use ladders frequently, so wear and tear are inevitable.

Over time, ladders may develop damage or defects that compromise their stability and strength.

Failure to inspect and maintain ladders can result in accidents.

Faulty or damaged ladders can break during use, causing falls and injuries.

It is essential to regularly check for damage, such as bent rungs, loose screws, or cracks, and remove any defective ladders from use immediately.

Construction workers should always inspect their ladders before using them to ensure they are in good working condition.

Unsuitable Ladders

Different construction tasks require different types of ladders.

There are multiple types of ladders, such as step ladders, extension ladders, and straight ladders.

Various materials, such as wood, aluminum, and fiberglass, offer different weight capacities and durability.

Using the wrong type of ladder for a specific task or a damaged ladder can increase the risk of accidents.

Construction workers should always use the appropriate ladder for their functions to ensure safety.

Lack of Safety Training

Inadequate safety training is a crucial factor contributing to ladder accidents.

Every construction worker must be well-versed in proper ladder usage, positioning, and safety measures.

They should also be trained to recognize potential hazards and know how to mitigate them.

Regular safety training and briefings can help workers stay updated on the latest safety protocols and minimize the risk of ladder accidents.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also offers various resources, including online materials, to help construction companies improve job site safety.

Lack of Safety Protocols

Every construction company and construction site owner should also have procedures and protocols in place for ladder usage and safety.

Providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as harnesses, can also help minimize the risk of accidents.

Adequate supervision and communication among workers can also help prevent ladder accidents.

Environmental Factors

Beyond human factors, environmental conditions such as adverse weather, poor lighting, and other external elements can significantly increase the risk of ladder accidents.

Construction companies should take necessary precautions such as rescheduling work during bad weather, providing proper lighting, and removing any obstacles that may pose a hazard to ladder users.

Tackling these factors can help reduce the number of ladder accidents and construction accident injuries.

Types of Injuries From Ladder Accidents

Ladder accidents can result in a spectrum of injuries, ranging from minor bruises and sprains to severe and life-altering conditions.

Understanding the potential injuries is crucial for creating awareness and emphasizing the importance of safety measures.

Bruises and Sprains

Minor injuries such as bruises and sprains are common in ladder accidents.

These may result from falls or contact with the ladder during use.

While these injuries may not seem severe, they can still cause pain and discomfort for workers.

Cuts and Lacerations

Cuts and lacerations can occur if a worker falls onto or against the ladder, resulting in contact with sharp edges or materials.

These injuries may require stitches or other medical treatment and can be severe depending on their location and depth.

Even if they seem minor, they can lead to infections and other complications if not treated properly.

Fractures and Broken Bones

Construction workers who fall from a ladder may suffer fractures or broken bones, particularly to the arms, wrists, legs, and ankles.

The severity of these injuries depends on the height of the fall, the impact of landing, the health of the individual, and other factors.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to fix fractures and broken bones, leading to extended recovery time and potential permanent damage.

Head Trauma

Head trauma is a severe type of injury that can occur from a ladder fall.

Workers who do not wear helmets or other head protection are at risk of sustaining concussions, skull fractures, and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

These injuries can be life-threatening and have severe and lasting consequences on a person’s cognition, behavior, and physical abilities.

They may require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Falls from ladders can also result in spinal cord injuries, which can cause permanent paralysis, disability, or other neurological deficits.

These injuries may occur if a worker lands on their back or neck during a fall.

Depending on the location and severity of the injury, it can have life-altering consequences for the individual, significantly impacting their daily functioning and quality of life.

Severity and Long-Term Impact of Ladder Accident Injuries

The severity of ladder accident injuries can vary significantly, depending on various factors such as the height of the fall, landing surface, and individual health conditions.

Regardless of the severity, even minor injuries can have long-term impacts on an individual’s physical and mental well-being.

While bruises, cuts, and sprains may heal within a few days or weeks, they can be a nuisance and hinder daily activities during the healing process.

More severe injuries such as fractures, head trauma, and spinal cord injuries may require long-term medical care and rehabilitation.

These accidents can also lead to lost work time, causing financial strain and impacting a person’s mental health.

It is vital to prioritize safety when using ladders to prevent potential construction accident injuries and their long-term impacts.

Legal Aspects of Ladder Accidents

Every construction site accident poses legal implications for both workers and employers.

If a worker gets injured in a ladder accident, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from their employer.

If the accident occurred due to negligence or safety violations, the worker may also have grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties.

Determining Liability

Establishing liability is a critical aspect of construction accident claims.

In ladder accidents, liability may fall on different parties depending on the circumstances.

Some examples of liable parties in ladder accident cases include:

  • Construction Company: The construction company may be liable if they fail to provide proper safety training, enforce safety protocols, or provide adequate PPE.
  • Construction Site Owner: If the accident occurred due to unsafe working conditions on the job site, the site owner may be held responsible for any resulting injuries.
  • Ladder Manufacturer: In cases of defective ladders, the manufacturer may be held liable for any injuries the product caused.
  • Other Contractors or Workers on Site: If another worker caused the accident through negligence or lack of communication, they may be liable for any resulting injuries.

Understanding who holds responsibility is essential for pursuing legal action and seeking compensation.

Workplace Safety Regulations

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and other safety guidelines are crucial in preventing ladder accidents.

Employers are responsible for ensuring compliance with these regulations and providing a safe working environment for their employees.

Some OSHA guidelines related to ladder safety include:

  • Proper selection of ladders suitable for the task at hand
  • Appropriate setup and stability of ladders
  • Adequate training on ladder usage and safety protocols
  • Regular inspection and maintenance of ladders

Employers who fail to adhere to these guidelines may face penalties and fines from OSHA and potential legal action from injured workers.

Rights of Injured Workers

Workers who suffer construction accident injuries are entitled to certain rights, including seeking medical treatment and compensation for any resulting damages.

Injured workers must be aware of their rights and take appropriate action in case of an accident.

Some of these rights include:

  • The right to file a workers’ compensation claim
  • The right to seek legal representation
  • The right to refuse unsafe working conditions
  • The right to medical treatment and rehabilitation

By understanding their rights, workers can ensure that they receive the necessary support and compensation in case of an accident.

Employers are also responsible for informing their employees about their rights and taking measures to prevent accidents from occurring.

Preventive Measures and Safety Practices

Ensuring ladder safety on construction sites requires a proactive approach.

Adherence to safety practices is essential to prevent ladder accidents on construction sites.

Practical guidelines include:

  • Proper ladder selection
  • Regular maintenance and inspection
  • Correct positioning and usage
  • Continual worker training
  • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

By fostering a culture of safety and accountability, construction sites can minimize the likelihood of injuries and ensure that all personnel are adequately protected while performing their duties.

Regular safety audits and feedback sessions can help identify potential hazards and improve existing protocols, further safeguarding workers against ladder-related incidents.

Proper Ladder Selection

Choosing the right ladder for the task significantly minimizes the risk of accidents.

Consider the ladder’s load capacity, material, and length.

The ladder should be capable of supporting the worker’s weight along with the weight of any tools or materials.

If electrical work is involved, use ladders made from non-conductive materials like fiberglass.

Regular Maintenance and Inspection

Regular inspection of ladders for any signs of wear or damage is critical in any construction site.

Check for broken or loose steps, frayed rope, or cracks in the side rails.

It’s vital to repair or replace damaged ladders to prevent accidents.

Correct Positioning and Usage

Users must place the ladder on a stable, level surface and the ladder should lean at the right angle.

Following the four-to-one rule, when a ladder is leaning against a building, its base should be one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height.

Workers should always maintain three points of contact (two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand) on the ladder when climbing.

Users must strictly avoid overreaching or carrying heavy loads while on the ladder.

Continual Worker Training

Regular training sessions are crucial to reinforce safety protocols in a construction site.

Workers should be trained on proper ladder selection, setup, usage, and what to do in an emergency.

Educating workers on the dangers of ladder accidents and how to prevent them is also essential.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Using PPE, such as hard hats, non-slip safety footwear, and tool belts, can further enhance safety.

PPE can protect workers from various hazards and help prevent injuries in case of an accident.

Employers should provide and enforce the use of appropriate PPE for all workers on a construction site.

Role of Construction Injury Lawyers

In the unfortunate event of a ladder accident, injured workers may need legal assistance to protect their rights and seek compensation for damages.

Construction injury lawyers specialize in handling construction site accidents and can provide valuable legal counsel to victims.

Navigating Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation claims for ladder accidents can be complicated and require careful documentation and navigation of the legal system.

An experienced construction injury lawyer can help injured workers gather evidence and file a claim within the specified time limit.

They can also ensure the claim is accurately valued to cover all damages, including medical expenses and lost wages.

Pursuing Third-Party Lawsuits

In some cases, a third party may be liable for the ladder accident.

This party may be any of the following:

  • Manufacturers of defective ladders
  • Contractors or subcontractors responsible for the construction site
  • Other workers on the construction site

A skilled lawyer can help injured workers identify all potential parties at fault and pursue a construction accident claim to secure additional compensation beyond the amount workers’ compensation covers.

Securing Fair Compensation

Insurance companies may try to settle workers’ compensation claims for less than what the worker is entitled to.

A construction injury lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on behalf of the injured worker to ensure they receive fair compensation for all damages.

They can also represent the worker in court to fight for their rights and fight for your fair justice.

Seek Justice With TorHoerman Law

Ladder accidents pose a significant threat to construction workers, leading to serious injuries and financial burdens, such as medical expenses and lost income.

Prioritizing safety through proper training, equipment maintenance, and adherence to safety regulations is essential.

In the event of an accident, prompt legal action, guided by construction injury lawyers, can help injured workers recover compensation they deserve.

TorHoerman Law is a leading law firm specializing in construction site accidents, providing expert legal advice and representation to injured workers. 

Contact us today for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for the construction accident lawsuit instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes ladder accidents at construction sites?

    Ladder accidents at construction sites typically result from factors like improper ladder selection, human error, and failure to adhere to safety protocols.

    Common causes include using ladders on uneven ground, neglecting to use personal protective equipment, and the presence of exposed wires or other hazards.

    Occupational safety standards, such as those outlined by OSHA regulations, aim to mitigate these risks by enforcing proper training and the use of safety equipment among construction workers.

  • What injuries result from construction ladder accidents?

    Construction ladder accidents can lead to serious injuries, including broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal injuries.

    Falls from ladders, one of the leading causes of fatal occupational injuries in the construction industry, can also result in severe cases like paralysis or fatal falls.

    Immediate medical attention and accurate documentation of medical expenses are crucial for injured construction workers facing such accidents.

  • Can workers claim compensation for ladder accident injuries?

    Injured construction workers can claim compensation for ladder accident injuries through workers’ compensation claims, which cover medical bills and lost wages.

    If the accident resulted from another party’s negligences, such as defective equipment from manufacturers or lack of safety measures enforced by the construction company, then a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate.

    A legal team specializing in construction accident claims can help navigate these processes to recover maximum compensation.

  • How can ladder accidents be prevented on job sites?

    Preventing ladder accidents on job sites involves enforcing strict safety protocols, providing proper training to construction workers, and ensuring all equipment, including ladders, is properly secured and maintained.

    Utilizing personal protective equipment, avoiding overcrowded work areas, and adhering to health administration guidelines can significantly reduce the risk.

    Construction site owners and general contractors must also ensure that safety standards, such as securing power lines and preventing exposure to dangerous equipment, are upheld to avoid common injuries and ensure a safe construction zone.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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