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Ladder Safety: Avoiding injury and what to do if you are hurt

Falls are the number one cause of death in and around the home, according to the National Safety Council. More than 6,000 people die each year and 30,000 people are injured by ladder falls. Workplace falls from ladders can have much more severe injuries than the average ladder in a home. Following safety guidelines can prevent these injuries -- both at home and in the workplace.

Using the correct height ladder for the task may seem like an obvious first tip. However, the 'right' ladder may not be available and the job may need to be done right now. There's no task worth risking your life or safety over. If an employer is unwilling to see the value in that, there may be more concerns in the workplace, and it may be prudent to involve OSHA.

The angle of ladders can also prevent injuries. Without getting into a high school geometry lesson, there are some quick tips to bear in mind. For every 4 feet of rise, the bottom of the ladder should be one foot out from the wall or whatever it is leaning against. Too much angle will make the ladder difficult to climb, as well as lessening the weight the ladder can bear. If you are unable to make the space in order to complete the task, consider other options. Again, no task is worth the risk of serious or fatal injury.

People who are injured on the job may not know how to go about receiving workers' compensation, especially in cases where workplace safety precautions were not being observed due to the actions of the employer. Working within OSHA guidelines is not an option, it is the law. Contacting a qualified attorney who represents employees' rights can be an excellent resource to learn more about your rights and your options.

Source: The Green Bay Press Gazette, "Safety first column: Get the right angle on ladder safety," Lt. Nick Craig, Oct. 3, 2012

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