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Stop and think before you use a ladder

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Injuries from ladder falls have been steadily increasing in Australia, especially among men aged 60 years and older doing work in and around their home. Nick was an active man in his seventies before a fall from a ladder left him in hospital for nearly six months.

Five years ago Nick was an active man in his 70s, who looked after his household. He undertook home maintenance and DIY projects. Nick and his wife, Mersina, travelled a lot, visiting their children and grandchildren in Asia and enjoying holidays around the world.

Nick had recently completed an extension to their home when heavy rain put the new roof to the test. Water started coming inside, so Nick went out to see if he could fix the leak. 

There were two ladders resting against the wall where Nick needed to climb up. In his haste, he decided to climb the first ladder where it lay. He didn’t stabilise the ladder.

It was only a short climb to the gutter, about two metres, but halfway up Nick fell, landing on his back and hitting his head on the grass in his back yard. The ladder came down on top of him.

Mersina and Nick’s son, John, were home at the time. John heard Nick fall and went outside to see what had happened.

“When I went outside, Dad was lying on his back on the grass,” John said. “At first I thought he was dead, because he wasn’t moving – he was unconscious.”

John rushed inside to get Mersina and call an ambulance. By the time they came back out, Nick had regained consciousness and got up. He seemed to be ok, but John and Mersina took him to the hospital.  He suffered a seizure while in the emergency department.

Nick’s outlook was not good. He had fractured his back.

“The doctor said he might not make it,” John said. “He was in an induced coma in the ICU – it was pretty bad.”

Nick was in the hospital for nearly six months.  

Now back at home, their lives have changed forever.

“We used to do so many things,” Mersina says. “We travelled all over the world. But now every day is the same.”

“Dad is not the same person he used to be,” John says. “Before the accident he was very active – he mowed the lawns, he did house maintenance. He did everything himself.”

“He never thought anything would happen to him – certainly not in the way it turned out – so it could potentially happen to anyone.”

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For more ladder safety tips visit: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/ladder-safety-nicks-story