Hello, I am Dalena Tripplet, a safety inspector with the Department of Labor and Industries, Division of Occupational Safety and Health. I was assigned to investigate an incident where a school employee was seriously injured when he fell off an eight foot ladder.
Two maintenance workers at a public school were instructed to tape a large six-foot long banner to the outside windows over the school entrance doors at a height of 12 feet. They brought an extension ladder and an eight foot stepladder to do this job. The worker using the stepladder could not reach the 12 foot height without standing on the top rung which he did. When he reached over to the second worker to grab a roll of duct tape, his ladder tipped sideways in the opposite direction and toppled over. The worker fell head first onto the concrete below and sustained a serious head injury. An animation of the incident is shown on the next slide.
The head injury from this fall has left the worker with permanent brain damage.
Most step ladders have warning labels regarding stepping on the top of the ladder – either the top rung or the top cap. Even though ladders were used frequently in this school district, maintenance employees, including the injured worker, were not given any training on ladder safety or specifically instructed not to stand on the top rung or cap.
The employer was cited for not prohibiting employees from standing on the top step and for not providing ladder safety training as required by L & I ladder safety regulations. Lets keep Washington Safe and Working by always providing ladder safety training and emphasizing the proper use of stepladders to prevent falls.