Sheffield Law firm warns of risks posed by working with ladders

Injuries using ladders at work


Personal injury experts Irwin Mitchell are warning Sheffield businesses and employees to recognise the dangers posed by working with ladders or risk the misery and financial consequences that follow accidents.

Ladders Week, organised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), takes place from 14 to 21 November to help increase awareness of risks associated with ladder use.

In 2004, the HSE reported 13 fatalities in the UK from falls whilst working on ladders and more than 1,200 people suffered major injuries.

Injury after falling from a ladder at work

David Urpeth, partner with national law firm Irwin Mitchell, based at its offices in Riverside, Sheffield, said: "Many people are unaware of the serious risks involved in using ladders, especially in the workplace, but nearly a third of all major injuries from falls at height are caused by not using ladders properly.

"It's important to raise awareness of the issue for employers and employees, to decrease the numbers of incidents occurring."

Mr Urpeth said many falls were preventable if employers planned work properly, assessing the risks and choosing the right equipment. Where possible, workers should not be required to work at height. If unavoidable, safe systems, such as scaffolds, should be used. Ladders should only be used for low risk, short duration work.

He said: "If used, ladders should always be in good condition and measures taken to prevent slipping."

Lower right leg amputation

Irwin Mitchell's personal injury team are currently handling a case which highlights how serious falls from ladders can be. Andrew Oxley, from Beachief, Sheffield, had his lower right leg amputated after falling from a ladder whilst working at a Doncaster building site in November 2000.

Mr Oxley, 40, was working for Sheffield based Richard Haddon, trading as Town and Country Roofing and had been putting new guttering in place at a large office development site at 10 Pound Walk.

He was installing a water drainage pipe when the ladder's hooks broke, causing it to twist beneath Mr Oxley, who fell approximately eight metres, landing on a concrete slab.

As a result of the fall, Mr Oxley badly broke his right leg and a fixator was applied, which remained in place for five months. During this time Mr Oxley endured constant pain.

Below-knee amputation

The wound became infected and was subject to serious complications which resulted in a below-knee amputation of his right leg.

Mr Urpeth, who is handling Mr Oxley's compensation claim against Richard Haddon, trading as Town and Country Roofing, said: "This was obviously a very painful and traumatic experience for Mr Oxley and his family. Sadly, the accident could easily have been avoided had proper work equipment been provided.

"Mr Oxley is still suffering pain and discomfort, but is now trying to get his life back to some level of normality with the use of a prosthetic limb. "

Mr Oxley said: "I hope raising awareness of the risks of ladder use in the workplace will help prevent this happening to others. My life will never be the same after what happened but I want to try and help people who may have had similar experiences or could be at risk where they work.

"I urge people to make sure, before starting a job, that a ladder is the suitable option and any used meet the required safety standards. If all the ladders had been checked on the site where I was working, my accident wouldn't have happened."

Have you got a claim? If we can help you or someone you know with a similar case, please visit our Accidents at work pages.