How many painters and decorators wear a helmet on the job? While may tradies may laugh off the idea of wearing protective headgear to climb a ladder, this is exactly what Alfred Health recommends following a revealing study about the number of serious ladder-related injuries in Australia.

With climbing ladders a high-risk but necessary aspect of many self-employed painters and decorators, it’s a good idea to take safety precautions Additionally, all workers should ensure they have business insurance covering personal accident.

A majority of serious ladder accidents in Australia occurred among older males.


You should always take precautions to prevent an accident.

Ladder accidents a serious threat to tradies

Figures from Product Safety Australia show that there are an average of 4.5 fatalities a year that result from falling off ladders, and a fall of just 1-2 metres can have serious repercussions.

In a recent study lead by Alfred Health’s Senior Clinical Trauma Research Fellow Dr Helen Ackland, it was revealed that ICU management was needed in 39 per cent of the 150 major trauma patients who had fallen off ladders. Additionally, the last five years have seen a 67 per cent increase in ICU admissions.

Dr Ackland said this is a worrying statistic, especially because of the likelihood of trauma or mortality occurring.

“Most who fall from ladders suffer minor injuries, but those who suffer major trauma often have a long road of recovery ahead and sometimes sustain injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives,” she said.

“Significant head injury was evident in 55 per cent of cases and 47 per cent of patients sustained spinal injuries,” she added.

What precautions should you take?

It’s apparent from these statistics how important it is to take steps against ladder accidents, particularly for self-employed tradesmen like decorators who may be working alone. Alfred Health suggests several ways you can do this, including wearing slip-resistant shoes, climbing no higher than two steps before the top rung, always having someone brace the ladder, and never trying to overreach.

In addition, ladders should always be inspected for safety prior to use, and set-up on stable ground.

Nevertheless, it pays to be prepared in case an accident does happen, and a big part this is protecting yourself from any loss of income that results from being injured and unable to work. Consequently, you should always consult an insurance broker to ensure you are covered, in combination with other actions to minimise the risk of an accident.