In January 2020, a roofing company in Kent was fined more than £28,000 because a worker had fallen from a ladder and sustained serious back injuries. The company hadn't taken steps to ensure that the man would be able to maintain three points of contact with the ladder while working - a HSE inspector stated that the accident could have been prevented "by simply providing basic and inexpensive lifting aids".

Unfortunately, this story is far from unique. Just one month earlier, in December 2019, the owner of a painting and decorating company in Northamptonshire was sentenced to 160 hours of unpaid work (and ordered to pay more than £2,000 in costs) after one of his employees suffered a fall that left him paralysed from the chest down.

These examples illustrate how important it is to follow the HSE's safety guidelines when using a ladder. If you've ever misused a ladder and wondered 'what's the worst that could happen?'...well, now you have a rough idea!

What Not to Do on a Ladder >

Unsafe ladder use can have consequences ranging from minor bruises to permanent paralysis and even death.

Here are some examples of the injuries that can result from falling off a ladder:

  • Cuts, grazes and bruising
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Concussion and other head injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Longer falls are obviously more dangerous, and your injuries may be more serious if you land on a hard surface or sharp object, or if something falls on top of you (e.g. the ladder itself, or the tools / materials you were carrying).

But even if you're not too high up and you land on a soft carpet, falling from a ladder can still result in a serious injury. Read our ladder safety tips to keep risk to a minimum - and always inspect your ladder before use. If there are any signs of damage, you may need to buy a new one!

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