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Watch Your Footing!

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Most Common Worker’s Comp Claim:

  • Falls caused by ladders or stairs (Falls often injure multiple body parts*)

Most Common Worker’s Comp Injury:

  •  Sprains and Strains

Falls rank as the most common cause of workers compensation injury claims for contractors.* Ladders are involved in most of those accidents, but stairs cause a lot too. 

Workers trip over equipment, slip on smooth stairs, or just take a misstep, and the next thing they know, they’ve fallen. And because they’re on stairs, they can tumble quite a ways. 

Although anyone who uses stairs (and that’s most of us!) is at risk for falls, contractors are exposed to that hazard routinely. Following just a few fall-prevention basics may help prevent a potentially career-ending injury: 

  • Running or taking two steps at a time is risky. Slow down, plant your foot firmly on each step, and don’t take the next step until you know your foot won’t slip. Use the handrail when available. 
  • Work boots with non-skid soles can help with traction. Soles worn smooth can up your chances of falling. 
  • When carrying tools and equipment, make sure it’s not too much to handle. If it’s an “oversized load,” make multiple trips or ask for help. Bundle everything so nothing creates a tripping hazard: Dangling cords, dropped tools, or items swinging around your legs can easily trip you. 
  • No horseplay around stairs.

But let’s not leave portable ladders out entirely. Try to imagine what it would feel like to fall six or eight feet from a ladder onto concrete or the corner of a bench. Certainly not a situation anyone wants to think about! So paying attention to every step onto or off of a ladder is not only important, it could be a lifesaver. Try this quick quiz to see if you know these few nuggets of ladder wisdom. 

  1. How far should ladders extend above the top of the surface you are climbing onto?
  2. How far from the wall should the base of an extension ladder be if the ladder is extended to 20 feet high?
  3. True or false: If necessary for additional reach, it’s okay to momentarily stand on the top rung of a step ladder.

If you fall, in one way or another, everyone at your business is affected. Co-workers may need to work longer hours. A replacement may need to be hired. And someone needs to file the work comp claim, and stay in contact with you to make sure you get the necessary medical help. Isn’t it just easier to prevent the accident in the first place? 

Quiz answers:  

  1. Three feet. This helps ensure a sufficient hand-hold for stepping off or onto the ladder.
  2. Five feet. To calculate, use a 1:4 ratio (1 foot of distance away from the wall for every 4 feet of ladder height).
  3. False. You should never stand above the third rung from the top.

*From Federated Insurance workers compensation claims data. 

Safe@Work is brought to you by Federated Insurance®. This article is for general information and recommendations regarding risk prevention only and should not be considered legal or other expert advice. The recommendations presented may help reduce or eliminate the risk of loss, but are not guaranteed to do so. Seek qualified counsel with questions specific to your circumstances. ©2018 Federated Mutual Insurance Company.   

Federated Insurance

Posted In: ACCA Now, Safety

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