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CDC: Workplace Ladder Falls a Major Cause of Deaths, Injuries

There were 113 ladder-related deaths, more than 34,000 ER-treated injuries in 2011 alone

FRIDAY, April 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Workplace tumbles off of ladders are a major cause of injury and death among American employees, according to a study published in the April 25 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In the study, Christina M. Socias, Dr.P.H., of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed U.S. national data for 2011. They found that work-related ladder falls caused 113 deaths, almost 15,500 nonfatal injuries that resulted in at least one day away from work, and about 34,000 nonfatal injuries that were treated in hospital emergency departments.

Workers at greatest risk for ladder fall injuries include men; older employees; Hispanics; and those in the fields of construction, extraction (such as mining), installation, maintenance, and repair. Most of these injuries could have been prevented, however. Socias and her colleagues urge employers, safety experts and health care professionals to work together to make safe ladder use training available to people both on and off the job. The authors also called for research into workplace ladder fall prevention, including developing and distributing new technologies to reduce the risk of ladder-related injuries.

"Falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide, and 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder," the authors write. Overall, "among workers, approximately 20 percent of fall injuries involve ladders."

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