Key messages

  • The State Trauma Committee has recommended that trauma prevention initiatives become a priority, with emphasis on identified gaps in trauma prevention.
  • Traumatic injuries resulting from domestic ladder falls have been on the rise.
  • A report overseen by the State Trauma Committee on domestic ladder falls suggests a number of opportunities for reducing this injury rate.

In 2013 the State Trauma Committee recommended that trauma prevention initiatives be considered a priority area, with specific emphasis on identified gaps in trauma prevention, such as domestic ladder falls.

Reducing deaths and serious injuries from domestic ladder falls

Major trauma resulting from domestic ladder falls in Victoria doubled between 2002 and 2013. Hospital admissions due to ladder falls have also steadily increased over this time, with over 8,000 admissions between 2009 and 2012. Approximately seven Victorians die each year as a result of injuries sustained in a domestic ladder fall.

In 2014, the Department of Health & Human Services engaged Monash University’s Injury Research Institute to undertake research into this issue and identify evidenced-based opportunities to reduce domestic ladder fall injuries and mitigate ladder injury risks.

Consultation was undertaken with key stakeholders and organisations, including a survey of domestic ladder users across Victoria.

Report findings

The resulting Report on the reduction of major trauma and injury from ladder falls includes a literature review, a description of current initiatives and industry standards, and analysis of hospital data relating to ladder falls.

Findings from the report include:

  • Older males account for the majority of injury-related cases (including deaths) due to a domestic ladder fall. The peak age group for emergency presentations is 55-59 years and 65-69 years for hospital admissions.
  • Most domestic ladder falls occur when the ladder user was performing indoor or outdoor home maintenance.
  • The most common mechanism of injury from ladder falls is when the fall is from a height and the ladder slides away from the user.

Opportunities identified to reduce ladder falls include:

  • improving the design and mechanism of ladders for safe consumer use through reviewing the strength and stability of ladder design
  • supporting ladder standard and regulation improvements and enhancement for improved compliance and ladder manufacture
  • supporting safe ladder use through building design innovation and features such as gutter guards and anchor points
  • improving surfaces around ladders, such as the use of anti-slip floor coverings and surface treatments to reduce injury risk from falls
  • promoting the use of protective equipment when using ladders in the domestic context
  • supporting public awareness of the risks and dangers of ladder use in the domestic setting through public education and resources on ladder fall prevention
  • promoting alternatives to ladder use such as services and resources available to domestic ladder users within the community
  • addressing the prevention of domestic ladder falls and fall injuries through multi-sectorial collaboration and further research as required.

The department will work with key stakeholders to identify opportunities to reduce injury from domestic ladder falls.