If you work in construction, you probably step onto a ladder at least once a week. Unfortunately, ladder-related accidents are a leading cause of both injury and death. In fact, according to statistics from the World Health Organization, falls from ladders account for roughly 164,000 emergency room visits every year in the U.S.

Ladder accidents may happen for many different reasons. Still, if you fall from a ladder, there is a good chance at least one of the following factors played a role in the accident.

1. Improper selection

Ladders come in a seemingly endless variety of shapes, sizes and styles. Not every ladder at your jobsite is right for every project you need to tackle, though. Before choosing a ladder, be certain you have read through its usage instructions. Then, double check weight, height and other limitations to minimize your chances of toppling off the ladder.

2. Unsafe placement

For ladders to support your weight, they must stand on a solid foundation. Placing a ladder on uneven or shifty surfaces may put your life at risk. The same may be true if you stack the ladder on scaffolding or even another ladder. Furthermore, before stepping onto the ladder, you must be sure its feet are in the correct and locked position.

3. Defective equipment

Like the other tools you use, ladders may wear out or fail over time. Your ladder is also vulnerable to damage from falling debris and collisions at the jobsite. Consequently, you should inspect every ladder you intend to use thoroughly.

If you notice a problem with a ladder, you should alert your coworkers. Marking the ladder as unsafe or removing it from usage may prevent serious injury to those with whom you work.