Unsafe Ladder Causes Life-Threatening Fall

    Building Management Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Georgia and involves a building maintenance technician who was injured by a fall while working on a residential building. The Plaintiff was an employee of a property management company that had been retained by the property owner to maintain an apartment building and grounds. On the day of the accident, the Plaintiff had been asked to make repairs to a condenser unit for the building’s air conditioning system located on the roof of the building. Roof access for the building was provided by a ladder that was permanently affixed to the building’s exterior. Notably, this ladder lacked many safety features, such as walk-thru handrails, a safety cage, and non-slip surfaces on its rungs. The property management company was aware of the fact that this ladder was dangerous and, moreover, in violation of local building codes, however they took no steps to improve or replace it. After completing his work on the roof, the Plaintiff mounted the ladder and began to descend. At some point, the Plaintiff lost his footing on the ladder and fell an unknown distance, landing on a grassy surface beneath the ladder, where he was found unconscious and bleeding by one of the building’s tenants. As a result of the fall, the man is now a quadriplegic who is unable to work and will require a lifetime of ongoing care.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please discuss your background in building management and setting safety protocols.
    • 2. Given the case summary, what could have been done to prevent this accident?

    Expert Witness Response E-008234

    Earlier in my career I was the lead engineer for the safety review board of a major electrical utility. As part of this, I had responsibility for investigating generating plant safety issues and incidents. This included a number of investigations involving fall hazards & code compliance for ladders, stairs, and platforms, on the interior & exterior of facilities. Since then, I have performed nearly 3000 engineering evaluations invoving safety issues and incidents. Over 200 of those have involved issues with ladders and stairs, including accident causes & compliance with codes. I worked for a consulting engineering firm for nearly 30 years that provided product and design assistance on safety and compliance issues for manufacturers of ladder, stair, platform & guardrail systems, including lab testing of hardware in accordance with recognized codes and standards. Based on the summary provided as well as the details of ladder system it appears that the installation was not constructed and maintained in accordance with applicable ANSI, OSHA and other applicable codes and standards that may have prevented this accident. Moreover, the fact that the property management company was aware of the danger posed by this ladder shows patent negligence on their part.

    Contact this expert witness