Licensed Professional Engineers
Ladder accidents are a common occurrence that are often the result of inadequately designed and manufactured ladders. Life-changing injuries can result from these defective products. Ladder accidents are often classified as falls from ladders. While some people presumably fall from ladders because of losing their balance, many ladder accidents are the result of defective ladders. When a leg or legs of a ladder fail due to inadequate design, manufacturing defects, or material defects, the ladder collapses under the weight of the user, sending the ladder user falling to the ground. Safety Engineering Resources has decades of experience analyzing defective ladders and reconstructing ladder accidents. Stepladders are often designed to be constructed out of a minimum amount of material. This is to meet pricing requirements of large retail chains and to be competitive with all of the other stepladder manufacturers. These ladders are then usually manufactured in foreign countries, some of which may not have adequate quality control. These sad precedents has led to a multitude of cheaply-made ladders that are extremely unsafe. Ladders place the user in a position to be severely injured, paralyzed, or killed. A fall from a standard stepladder can result in debilitating injuries or worse. This necessitates ladders to be as safe as possible, to be completely stable.
Unstable stepladders exhibit "racking", a state that occurs when the rear legs of a stepladder become misaligned with the front legs of the ladder. This creates an unstable ladder with three points of contact with the ground, because the fourth leg is not touching the ground due to the sideways displacement of the rear legs. Racking can occur due to a variety of normal-use scenarios including climbing the ladder, descending the ladder, working from the ladder, repositioning the ladder, etc. Racked ladders are extremely unstable and can cause the ladder to topple over, sending the user crashing to the ground with no warning. Solutions to the problem of racking have been available for many years. Safety Engineering Resources has built and tested some of these solutions, as well as designed, built, and tested design solutions of our own. Other problems that can result in stepladder failures include defective manufacturing, inadequately designed support structure, and material defects.
Extension ladder users can also experience falls from the ladder due to defective ladder components. The most common cause of extension ladder accidents that are the result of a defective ladder is false-lock. False-lock occurs when the locking mechanism that holds the different parts of an extension ladder partially engages the two sections. When the ladder experiences changing forces from the user ascending or descending the ladder, this partial-engagement can and does disengage, resulting in the collapsing of the two ladder sections. Safety Engineering Resources can investigate extension ladder accidents and determine if it was due to a false-lock, or other contributing factors such as material defects or unstable design.
Articulated ladder accidents occur when hinges fail, usually the mechanism that locks the ladder hinge fails, allowing the hinge to rotate with the user on the ladder. This results in the user falling from the ladder. Hinge failure is a serious hazard of poorly designed articulated ladders.
Attic ladder accidents occur when the attic ladder experiences a structural failure. A big problem with traditional style attic ladders
From a hierarchy of design perspective that calls for all hazards of a design to be eliminated and all other hazards to be guarded, ladders should also provide safeguards to protect the user from the hazard of falling from an elevated height. This would involve fall arrest systems or containment systems that would prevent the user from falling.