How much compensation can you claim for a ladder accident at work?

Provisional figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) indicate that in 2014/15 around 6,600 people were injured at work through falling from a height and further 41 were killed. It is estimated that 40% of these accidents are a result of falling from a ladder.

These accidents may be prevented by following guidelines on the safe use of ladders and stepladders published by the HSE.

What do the regulations say?

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 were drawn up to prevent injuries caused by employees falling from a height at work.

Employers and those in control of any work at height activity must make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. This includes using the right type of equipment for working at height.

Ladders may be used for work at height when a risk assessment has shown that the risk is low and the use is only for a short time, or where there are existing workplace features that cannot be altered.

They may only be used where it is safe to do so - where the ladder will be level and stable may be secured if practically possible.

'Competent people' are those who have had instruction and understand how to use the equipment safely.

Those who are still to be trained may work under supervision of another competent colleague.

The employee is responsible for carrying out pre-use checks to make sure the ladder is safe to use. If any defects are spotted the ladder should not be used and the defects notified to the employer.

Employers need to ensure that ladders or stepladders are in a safe condition and suitable for the task.

As well as a daily pre-use check employers should carry out regular detailed visual inspections and keep up-to-date records.

Causes of workplace ladder accidents

As well as faulty equipment, accidents on ladders may be a result of human error. If a ladder is not long enough for the task being carried out the user may stretch or overreach to carry out his job.

This may cause the employee to lose his balance and fall. Injuries may include broken bones and dislocations. Back injuries following a ladder fall are common. Around 5% of falls from ladders lead to head injuries, some of which may not be apparent until some time after the accident.

Employers have a duty to ensure staff are properly trained in the appropriate use of ladders and if they fail in this duty they may be found liable should an accident occur.

Can you claim compensation for a ladder accident at work?

If you have been injured in the last 3 years as a result of a fall from a ladder that you believe was the fault of your employer you may be entitled to compensation. You may need to demonstrate that the accident was due to your employer’s or another’s negligence (for example a colleague).

You will need to undergo an independent medical examination to assess the extent of your injuries and the impact on your life both in the short and longer term.

This examination will involve a discussion about your accident and injuries and the effect on you, as well as a physical examination. It will help determine the level of pain and suffering you have sustained and how long it may be before you fully recover.

Your compensation award will include an amount for general damages for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity and special damages to recover your out of pocket expenses.

This calculation may including:

  • Cost of any treatment or private surgery to help speed your recovery
  • The cost of attending appointments – parking or travel costs
  • Any loss of earnings or future earnings
  • Payment for any tasks you previously carried out but now needed help with
  • Gratuitous care given freely by family and friends where that care would have had to be paid for had they not stepped in to help

Although guidelines set out by the Judicial College recommend upper and lower limits for each injury or illness, each case is assessed on its specific facts.

It is therefore it is not possible to state exactly how much compensation may be paid to a particular claimant.