One of the least expensive to purchases for your job could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars down the road. Ladders are a major source of expensive construction injuries and can reduce efficiency your workforce over time.

Ladders create increased risk of falls and falling objects as well as overexertion injuries. These injuries can result in increased insurance premiums and/or OSHA fines – the minimum starting at about $13,000. It often means that the injured worker will never be as efficient on the job. One study showed that even 3.5 years after a ladder injury, workers earned 7% less annually on average. Even worse the CDC concluded that 43% of fatal falls from 2000-2010 involved a ladder.

When you consider that in 2007 the average construction injury was $27,000, a piece of equipment so widely used, or misused like a ladder, doesn’t seem like such a great deal.

Some Quick Stats on the Costs of Using Ladders.

  • More than 80% of fall injuries by construction workers that result in a visit to the emergency room involved a ladder
  • Falls to a lower level that cause serious injuries result in $2.5 Billion in workers compensation direct costs to the US construction Industry.
  • Ladders and scaffolding use increases the loads on arms shoulders and knees.
  • Though a ladder might cost between $200-300, the average construction injury costs $27,000. 

The Real Costs of Ladders

Emergency room visits aren’t cheap. Health insurance isn’t cheap for the employer or the worker. An ambulance is very costly. Also in the time of Covid, any injury can increase the chance of exposure to the injured worker or to those trying to help him. 

Ironically it doesn’t take a big fall to end up in the hospital. It is estimated that the average fall distance is 7 and a half feet. Unfortunately the average hospital stay after a ladder fall is estimated to be more than two weeks.

Falls lead to days away from work and are a leading cause of workers comp costs in the construction industry. Nearly 40% of fatal injuries are a result of falls. 

Small firms tend to be much more at risk. More than 60% of fall fatalities are from firms with ten employees or less.

Inherent Problems with Ladders

Because a worker is most often carrying something with him when climbing a ladder, he is prevented from consistently having three points of contact. He is also more likely to strain, slip or trip which will lead to dropping something or a fall. Limited reach at the top of a ladder means there will always be a temptation to stretch beyond the ideal balance point. The base of a ladder is often not secured and slippage is common.

Scissor lifts to the Rescue

Scissor lifts (and other MEWPS) offer an array of advantages over ladders and come in so many flavors and sizes that they should always come to mind as offering a safer, more efficient alternative to a ladder.

Today’s scissor lifts come in small form factors including small electric and push-around versions that can fit through office doors and around corners easily. They can be used with minimal disruption in a public space with quick setup and breakdown as well as quiet operation. 

Scissor lifts offer larger, more stable platforms that reduce strains and offer greater reach than ladders. Workers can access heights without the risk inherent in climbing with equipment or tools in their hands.

The Bottom Line

The risk of a costly injury goes WAY down when using a MEWP compared to a ladder. The rate of injuries using MEWPS is estimated to be 120 per year verses 93 per day for ladder injuries!

Which option is the better deal for you and your workers?