Spot the Tort: Risky Stairway to Heaven

ladder riskOkay, not quite the stairway to heaven, but this long ladder could give the user a good head start. (All pics are expandable.) This picture from a University of Memphis law student makes me shudder.

Ladders are one of the most dangerous consumer products. A study published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health estimated that 2.2 million people received treatment in emergency rooms for ladder injuries during the 16-year-period from 1990-2005, an average of 136,000 cases a year.

Nearly 10% of injuries resulted in hospitalization, roughly twice that of consumer product-related injuries overall.

Other ladder injury data from the study included:

  • Men predominated over women in the percentage of injuries (76.5%).
  • Fractures were the most common type of injury (31.5%).
  • The number of ladder-related injuries increased by more than 50% from 1990 to 2005.
  • Of the cases for which locale of injury was recorded, 97.3% occurred in non-occupational settings, such as homes and farms.

Don’t underestimate the risks of ladders. Did you know that extension ladders need to be set up at a 75 and 1/2 degree angle (the “4 to 1 rule”) to minimize the risk of slipping?

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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