Study Shows the Long-Term Impact of Ladder Falls

Study Shows the Long-Term Impact of Ladder Falls

30th June 2020

A recent study has looked at how people are affected by falling off a ladder. The results suggest that it can have a bigger impact on men, especially as they get older.

Full Details of the Research

This research was carried out by investigators at the University of Queensland, and it is believed to be the first study of this type ever to be carried out. The University’s Dr Rob Eley pointed out that they had found that people could suffer from a variety of problems after a fall.

These issues include problems getting to sleep, depression and anxiety, as well as the physical pain that they suffered. Half of all people who had fallen from a height suffered from symptoms like these for 6 months or more afterwards.

Dr Eley stated that falling off a ladder is something that has a far greater effect than that of any injury sustained. He said that it could “significantly impact a person's mental health and the whole family." He also commented that these falls are “frequently preventable”, but that they are a common cause of injuries.

The Numbers They Gathered

The research findings let us see that men over the age of 55 are particularly at risk from this hazard. The team found that over half of all of the ladder falls that they looked into were for males in this age group.

To gather the numbers, they looked at the details of 134 people in Queensland who were treated at the Princess Alexandra and Nambour General Hospitals in the period running from October 2015 to the same month in the following year. All of them had got injured falling off a ladder.

By using the Assessment of Quality of Life (AQoL) scale, they were able to look at the person’s rate of recovery in the months after the accident, in both physical and psychological terms.

They revealed that the average time spent in hospital was 5 days. Among the most commonly seen injuries were spinal fractures and rib fractures. Other problems include tibia or fibula fractures, radius or ulna fractures, pelvic fractures and traumatic pneumothorax.

Most of these cases were caused by falls while carrying out home maintenance tasks. Workplaces that need staff to work at height should ensure that they have fixed access ladders or some other type of suitable safety equipment.

80% of those who were employed at the time of the ladder fall needed to take a minimum of 4 weeks off work after it. 16% were still unable to return to their normal functions 6 months after the incident.

What Can Be Done to Improve This Situation?

While factories and building sites use specialist safety equipment, the researchers suggest that individual users should be given safety instructions and mandatory stabilising features (like rubber feet and fasteners) at the point of purchase.

They also believe that design improvements could help people carrying out jobs at home to enjoy a higher level of safety.