Ladder Accidents on Work/Construction sites
One of the most prevalent types of accidents in the repair or construction of structures involves the use of ladders. Aside from the commonly perceived ladder accident where a ladder that is unevenly balanced then falls, or a step on the ladder gives way, there is a far more dangerous and deadly type of accident. These involve the use of metal, most usually aluminum, ladders. As a Construction Accident Attorney in New York City, we see these injuries way too often.
The National Electrical Safety Code requires a minimum clearance of 18.5 feet from a high voltage power line to the ground. Home improvement stores sell aluminum or fiberglass (and perhaps wooden) ladders. The aluminum ladders are generally somewhat less expensive and weigh less than the fiberglass counterpart. When not extended, these ladders are often as much as twenty (20) feet, and can extend to as much as forty (40) feet.
Several workers are killed each year by electrocution while utilizing aluminum ladders. They saved money on the purchase of the ladder, it was less cumbersome to carry and move, and these “benefits” cost them their lives. Many more suffer life altering disabilities.
The danger to the worker usually occurs while the ladder is being erected, lowered or moved by the worker. The worker has to shift his work spot, he moves the extended ladder, a tree may partially hide a power line, the wind is blowing, the aluminum ladder comes into contact with the power line while it is held by the worker–electrocution results!
Certainly in New York State, an employer has a statutory duty to provide safe equipment for their workers. Can providing aluminum ladders be deemed safe–particularly in areas where overhead high voltage power lines exist?