ladderWork-related falls from ladders caused 113 deaths and almost 15,500 nonfatal injuries that resulted in at least one day away from work in 2011, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury [deaths] nationwide, and 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder," said a team led by Christina Socias. Approximately 34,000 ladder-related nonfatal injuries were treated in hospital emergency departments during 2011.

The study found that 20 percent of occupational fall injuries involve ladders.

Most falls from ladders occur in construction, mining, maintenance and repair activities. Victims are predominantly male, older and Hispanic.

"Among construction workers, an estimated 81 percent of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments involve a ladder," the researchers noted.

The study’s authors said research into workplace ladder fall prevention is needed to help develop new technologies to reduce the risk of ladder-related injuries.

They also recommended:

  • Providing workers with ladder safety training.
  • Using aerial lifts or supported scaffolds as alternative to ladders
  • Requiring inspections of ladders.
  • Matching ladders to the task and the worker’s weight.

The study appeared in the April 25 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.