Falls – many involving ladders – are a leading cause of workplace injuries, according to a NIOSH study.

Researchers examined data from several surveillance systems, including the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – Work Supplement. They found that ladders are involved in 20 percent of fall injuries among workers – and 81 percent of construction-worker fall injuries.

Ladder fall injuries increased with worker age, the researchers noted, with the exception of injuries treated in emergency departments. Self-employed workers had a higher rate of fatal ladder falls than salary/wage workers – 0.30 per 100,000 workers compared with 0.06.

To help prevent ladder falls, researchers suggest employers follow safe practices, including providing appropriate training, selecting the proper ladder and using safer alternatives such as scaffolds.