Farmer Died When He Fell From a Ladder, Michigan

Michigan Case Report: 10MI019
Report Date: 9/13/2011


In the Winter of 2010, an 83-year-old male farmer died when he fell from a ladder in a cattle pen while he was replacing boards for a heifer pen. The decedent had noted that the nominal dimension oak lumber (2x4s, 2x6s) boards on the fence between the concrete cattle courtyard and the heifer pen “gave way” when pushed against. The fence was located on the north side of the heifer pen. The event was unwitnessed. Cattle were in the courtyard. The decedent disassembled an extension ladder and was using the 12-foot fly section (the ladder section that can be extended upward) to gain access to the fence boards. It appears he was using a battery operated drill, described as fairly new, to drill pilot holes for additional fasteners. When the decedent did not come back for dinner, his spouse looked for him. She found him lying on his side on the ground, unconscious but breathing. The ladder had fallen to the east. The drill bit had broken. His wife tried to use her cell phone to call a friend and emergency response, but her cell phone would not place the call. Finally, she was able to contact 911. A helicopter was summoned and the decedent was taken to a nearby hospital. He died the next day as a result of the injuries sustained.


  • Follow safe ladder work practices; extension ladders should not be separated and use ladders equipped with safety feet.
  • Clear unrestrained animals from work area prior to beginning work.
  • When using fasteners like nails or screws, drill appropriately sized pilot holes and use appropriately sized fasteners.
  • Ensure emergency response can be summoned on a timely basis.

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Page last reviewed: March 13, 2020