Ladder and Stair Accidents

Navigating ladders and stairs are difficult enough on land, but when you’re aboard a ship, the dangers of falling are amplified. Whether on a cruise ship, commercial fishing vessel, oil rig or any other ship the risk of falling is increased.  Those who work aboard ships often need to utilize ladders as part of their daily work functions. Rough waters can cause waves that make the ship move unexpectedly. In addition to the dangers of motion, water or oil can make decks and stairways slippery.

Ladder and Stair Safety

There are some important safety precautions that are to be taken when using ladders and stairs aboard vessels. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides recommended safe ladder practices that include:

  • Securing ladder to stabilize before use
  • Keep ladders free from oil, grease or other slippery substances
  • Do not stand on the top two steps of the ladder
  • Face towards the ladder when using it
  • Always use both hands when climbing a ladder

Stairways should be well-lit to protect against falls. Handrails are essential, especially on ship stairways. Stairs need to be properly maintained and kept free from debris as well as water or oil. Those using stairways should utilize the handrail. When a ship is moving, more caution must be taken when going up or down stairs.

Safety Precautions

Companies must take precautions to ensure the safety of passengers and employees. Stairs must be properly maintained and regularly cleaned to keep them from becoming slippery. Ladders need to be regularly inspected to make sure they are safe for use. Any unsafe ladders should be immediately taken out of service and replaced. Lights should be installed in areas that are dark or where it is difficult to see.

Employers are responsible for training employees on safe ladder and stair practices. Employees should wear proper shoes with non-slip soles when working. They should be aware of the risks of falling and should be cautious on stairs. They should not run or skip stairs and should not carry items that are too large or heavy since these can impede safety.

Injuries Due to Falls

People who fall on stairs or from ladders can experience significant injuries. Minor wounds include contusions, sprains, and lacerations. Sometimes injuries are more serious. Head, neck and back injuries are among the most severe. Some head trauma could be disabling or life threatening. Back injuries may require surgery and months of rehabilitation time. Broken bones are also a common injury from falls. These injuries might keep workers from being able to stay on the job. In some instances, a worker may be unable to return to his original position due to the severity of his injuries and the long-term outcome.

In some cases, a fall from a ladder or stairs is caused by the negligence of the company. The company needs to properly maintain the workplace and keep it in a safe condition. If injuries were caused by the negligence of the employer the worker may be compensated for any resulting expenses.

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