South Carolina Workers’ Comp for Ladder & Scaffolding Accidents
Understand the necessary steps to secure workers’ comp benefits after a fall from a ladder or scaffolding in Columbia
In Columbia, South Carolina, ladders and scaffolding pose a significant risk to workers across various industries. Despite being essential tools in many jobs, they’re also a leading source of workplace injuries and fatalities.
Fortunately, for those who suffer injuries in Columbia, workers’ compensation benefits may offer a financial lifeline, helping to cover medical expenses and lost wages during the recovery period.
How many workers are injured or killed on ladders each year?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020, there were 161 fatal work injuries involving ladders, a 5.8% decline from 171 deaths in 2019. Of these, 105 deaths were from movable ladders and 5 were from fixed ladders.
Nonfatal ladder injuries requiring at least 1 day off work remained stable in 2020, with 22,710 injuries, compared to 22,330 in 2019.
Which workers have the highest risk of ladder or scaffolding accidents?
According to the BLS, in 2020, installation, maintenance and repair workers had the most ladder-related injuries at 5,790, followed by construction and extraction at 5,370, and service workers (such as custodians and janitors) at 3,160.
Other common workers at risk of ladder and scaffolding injuries include:
- Tree trimmers and arborists
- Iron and steel workers
- Shipbuilders and repairers
- Telecommunications workers
- Stage and set crew for events and productions
- Solar panel installers
- Commercial fishermen
- Agricultural workers
- Rail workers
- Sign installers
What is the most common cause of accidents when using a ladder?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common cause of accidents when using a ladder is the incorrect setup angle of extension ladders. This issue accounts for approximately 40% of ladder-related injuries and occurs when the ladder slides out at the base due to being set up at the wrong angle.
Other significant causes include:
- Using the wrong type of ladder
- Failing to inspect the ladder prior to use
- Using the ladder in a way it wasn’t intended to be used
- Not having access to ladder safety tools and information
What is the #1 reason people fall off scaffolding?
One study by the CDC revealed that the majority of scaffolding falls (68%) resulted from some type of scaffold equipment failure. This could include issues involving defective equipment or improper installation or operation.
Falls from scaffolding were also commonly attributed to workers slipping, the absence of fall protection, and a lack of proper training.
What is the #1 injury when using scaffolding?
The most common type of serious injury resulting from scaffolding or ladder falls is a traumatic brain injury. Falls from heights, even with safety equipment, can result in significant impact to the head, leading to severe brain and head injuries.
These injuries can have devastating, long-term effects, including:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Decreased problem-solving abilities
- Emotional issues like depression and anxiety
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Chronic pain
- Sensory deficits
These long-term effects often require ongoing medical treatment and can significantly impact the quality of life for the injured individual and their family.
Other common injuries after falling from scaffolding include:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Cuts and abrasions
- Internal bleeding/organ damage
What happens if you fall off a ladder at work?
South Carolina workers are typically entitled to benefits that cover medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages if they fall off a ladder or scaffolding at work and get injured. That’s because most employers in the state with 4 or more employees are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance to their workers.
However, there are some exceptions, including:
- Workers who sell agricultural products
- Casual employees
- Agricultural employees
- Railroad employees
- Employers with an annual payroll under $3,000 in the previous year
- Licensed real estate agents working for a broker
- Federal employees of the state
If you believe you fall into one of these categories after an injury, you should check with a workers’ compensation attorney to see if you’re covered under workers’ comp and explore your other legal options.
Explore the key factors affecting eligibility, including employee status, the nature of the injury or illness, and reporting and filing deadlines.
Can I get workers’ comp if the ladder or scaffolding accident was my fault?
In the majority of cases, the answer is yes. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that even if the ladder or scaffolding accident was your fault, you may still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
The primary focus is on whether the injury occurred while you were performing your job duties, not who is to blame for the accident.
However, there are exceptions, such as if the accident occurred while you were intoxicated or intentionally trying to injure yourself or others. You should always consult with an attorney for specific guidance based on your situation.
What steps do I need to take to get workers’ comp benefits after a work accident in South Carolina?
Below are the general steps required to file a claim and start receiving workers’ comp benefits in South Carolina:
- Seek emergency medical care immediately. Doing so not only addresses your medical needs but also provides essential documentation linking your injury to your job.
- Report the accident to your employer. You must submit a written report within 90 days of the injury event. Failing to do so could lead to a denied claim.
- Make sure your employer files a claim. Once notified, your employer is obligated to file a claim with their insurance company and inform the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. If they refuse, you can file the claim yourself using Form 50.
- Contact an attorney. If your claim is denied or your employer fails to file it, consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to protect your rights.
Taking these steps ensures you have the best chance of successfully claiming workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina.
What should I do if someone falls from a ladder?
In the immediate aftermath of someone falling from a ladder at work, it’s crucial to prioritize the victim’s medical needs. Call or have someone else call emergency services right away, and provide accurate details about the situation and the victim’s condition.
If trained in first aid, you should administer basic assistance to control bleeding or stabilize the victim, but do not move them unless absolutely necessary, as moving them could worsen potential spinal injuries or fractures. Additionally, you should refrain from removing any objects that may have impaled the victim, as this could lead to increased bleeding.
Simultaneously, ensure that the area around the accident is secure to prevent further injuries. Remove any hazards and keep bystanders away while waiting for medical professionals to arrive. In these critical moments, the focus should be squarely on the health and well-being of the injured person.
Get help from an experienced Columbia work injury attorney
If you’ve been seriously injured in a ladder or scaffolding accident at work in South Carolina, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before accepting a settlement from your employer or their workers’ compensation insurer.
Oftentimes, their initial settlement offer is far less than you deserve and may not cover your future medical expenses and wage replacement if you need long-term medical care or can’t return to work. Once you accept an offer, you won’t be able to request more money later if it’s insufficient to cover your needs.
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we understand how devastating a work injury can be. That’s why our experienced work injury attorneys offer free advice and provide an estimate of how much your claim should be worth, so you can make the best possible decision for your unique situation.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation to get started.
Fatal injuries from ladders down in 2020; nonfatal ladder injuries were essentially unchanged : The Economics Daily: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). www.bls.gov. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2022/fatal-injuries-from-ladders-down-in-2020-nonfatal-ladder-injuries-were-essentially-unchanged.htm
NEWSROOM FEATURE: Ladder Safety NIOSH | CDC. (2022, March 21). www.cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/newsroom/feature/ladder-safety.html#:~:text=Incorrect%20extension%20ladder%20setup%20angle
Request for assistance in preventing worker injuries and deaths caused by falls from suspension scaffolds. (2020). www.cdc.gov. https://doi.org/10.26616/NIOSHPUB92108