Personal Responsibility a Key Component of Ladder Accident Claims

When you have suffered a workplace injury or even an injury in the home stemming from the use of equipment such as a ladder, the first thought for many is to lay an injury claim either against their employer or the manufacturer of the equipment. There are, in fact, an infinite number of solicitors who encourage this in no uncertain terms – entering the phrase “accident claim” into a search engine will yield thousands of result, many posing as sober assessments of the law while actually being slightly hysterical advertisements. A personal suffering from an injury may quickly be convinced that their accident is a fast gateway to a large cash award. This may be true, but there are certain aspects to the Work at Height regulations, which may limit or even deny your claim.

In cases where an accident claim is made against an employer, the assumption is that all of the liability rests with the employer. The employer is required by the Work at Height regulations to provide training in the safe and proper use of equipment, including ladders. They are required to ensure the ladder is in proper condition and is the correct ladder for the type of work (including ensuring the ladder is of appropriate height for the job), and to ensure that the area where the ladder will be deployed is free of obstruction and that the floor surface is not slippery or uneven, which might cause the ladder to topple. Finally, they are required to provide any reasonable safety equipment, such as a harness or guide rope, as well as training on their proper use as well.

This lengthy list of employer responsibilities might imply that all liability automatically attaches to the employer, but before pursuing an accident claim involving the use of a ladder, an individual must also consider that they may be responsible as well, either in part or in whole. It is the responsibility of the individual to perform his or her own inspection of the equipment before use. Assuming that the employer has provided the basic safety training as required, the individual can reasonably be expected to know how to judge whether a ladder is in good condition. They should also know what the Safe Working Load of the ladder is, and the weight of materials they will be carrying onto the ladder (as well as their own weight). If an employer can reasonably demonstrate that they were unaware of a defect in the ladder, then they may escape responsibility for its failure. If the individual was trained on proper ladder procedures and uses the ladder incorrectly – by bringing too much weight onto it, by ignoring training and leaning out too far, but ‘hopping’ the ladder or in any other way misusing it, this may vacate any responsibility the employer might bear even if they have in fact been negligent in safety inspections. In fact, even if the wrong type of ladder is supplied to the employee and they are injured because of this, the employer can argue that the employee’s training should have enabled them to determine the ladder was not correct for the job and to demand a new one.

Similarly, in the home accident claims against manufacturers can be dependent on safe usage. Even if the ladder can be proven to have a defective part or defective construction, if the individual can be shown to have used the ladder improperly they may see their claim is reduced or even rejected entirely as a result. Personal responsibility is a very strong factor in accident claims.

In general, ladders and all other equipment should always be used in a safe manner following manufacturer’s guidelines and general safe use rules. Failure to do so may remove responsibility from an employer or manufacturer for any claims made against them stemming from an accident involving the ladder. While some solicitors make it seem like a very easy process to make an accident claim, individuals should take a step back and consider their own culpability in the situation before proceeding.

Ladders Direct are a division of Clow Group Ltd, the largest privately owned manufacturer of access equipment in the UK. They have been manufacturing ladders for 100 years and are specialists in work at height ladder safety training. Connect with Ladders Direct on Twitter @Ladders_Direct.

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