Extension Ladder Design Leads to Injury

ladder expert witnessThis equipment design case involves an improper footing on a rented aluminum extension ladder, which caused an injury. In June 2013, the plaintiff, a thirty-six-year-old professional painter in Oregon, was on a 32-foot extension ladder. He set up the ladder on a new, faux-wood deck in order to paint a sun window on the second floor of a home. The ladder was set up with no over-extension or extra weight — the painter was of average size. The footings on the ladder were described as being mismatched. One footing had a missing rubber cover that was designed to maintain the stability of the ladder. While the plaintiff was working at the top of the ladder, the footing slipped on the deck, causing the ladder to fall. The painter crashed to the deck, breaking his leg and ankle in the fall. He was out of work for eight weeks, lost considerable income and had to undergo weeks of physical therapy. The plaintiff alleges that the rental company defendant gave him a “modified” ladder that was not up to safety standards. He alleges that the modification caused the accident.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • Please discuss your experience with extension ladders and proper footing.

Expert Witness Response

I have been involved in numerous fall cases, including many involving equipment failure. This appears to be a compliance issue with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and manufacturer’s requirements. OSHA has numerous specific requirements for ladders. These include regulations governing load support, rung configuration and the use of slip-resistant feet. Additionally, ladder manufacturers must comply with industry standards. The ladder clearly violated safety compliance standards.

This expert has more than 20 years of experience in safety. He is a Certified Safety Professional and a Professional Engineer. He is the president and safety consultant for an independent safety consulting firm. He has numerous OSHA instructor certifications and teaches at a major university about equipment safety and the risks of failing to comply with safety regulations. He has presented and published extensively on the subject of safety.


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