A Bad Fall: Why NWCOs Can’t Be Too Careful
A friend of mine, let’s call him Kyle, owned a nuisance wildlife control company (NWCO). I write about him because he fell off a ladder on November 18, 2000. He was inspecting a one floor ranch house for the presence of squirrels in Westerly Rhode Island. Everything was routine. He climbed the ladder and inspected the roof. After completing the roof inspection, he grasped the ladder and placed a foot the rung testing the ladder’s stability. All appeared well so he placed the full weight on the ladder. Regrettably, the ladder’s base kicked out perpendicular from the building. As he started to become horizontal to the ground, Kyle, reached out his left hand in an attempt to grasp the gutter. A bend in the gutter showed he did grab it. But it wasn’t enough to stop his fall. He extended his right hand out to stop his fall. He hit the pavement below with his palm and his right arm fully extended. The resulting force shattered his wrist and elbow. It is the same effect as trying to drive a nail into concrete. It bends. That is what happened to his arm. Fortunately, the owner heard him yelling. A neighbor also saw what happened and drove over to help too. Kyle wondered how he was going to get the ladder on the truck and drive to the hospital.
The result was Kyle getting an external fixater on his forearm which he wore for at least 6 weeks. He also had 2 months of physical therapy. He went back to work 2 weeks after the incident but he was unable to do much work. Most of his time was spent monitoring the people he has had to hire to get the work done. The costs to his business have been substantial. But as Kyle said, “At least this didn’t happen during the Spring.”
I asked Kyle about the cause of this fall. He says, there was no defect in the ladder. He also doesn’t believe the ladder angle was wrong either. He believes the cause was the slick driveway. “It was a very well kept blacktop driveway”. It didn’t rain, but there was dew and wet leaves around. Perhaps, he speculates, leaves got underneath the ladder’s feet. He didn’t tie down the ladder in anyway nor did the ladder have any stabilizers attached. Perhaps his biggest concern is how he will feel climbing ladders again.
The conclusion of all this is the phrase used on the old series drama, Hill Street Blues. The sergeant always ended the briefing reminding the officers, “You be careful out there”. I couldn’t agree more.
Homeowners should understand that sometimes the least expensive price can be the most expensive. If Kyle wasn’t a stand up guy and someone who cut corners on insurance, then the homeowner may have found himself with a liability lawsuit. Buyer beware.
About the Author
An earlier form of this article was published in Wildlife Control Technology magazine. Stephen M. Vantassel, a CWCP, is available for consultation, conferences, research and publications. You can reach him at Stephenvantassel(at)Hotmail(dot)com.
All blog posts on Wildlife Control Consultant may be reprinted provided the articles are unedited, and my full name and website address are included.