WITH both legs broken in three places after he fell from a ladder, Garry Pattinson dragged himself 40m to his mobile phone to call for help.
Mr Pattinson is among those calling for older men to use ladders correctly to avoid devastating injury or death. One year on, he has just started walking without crutches but still requires pain management and a further year of physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
Mr Pattinson said there was not a day he did not regret his decision to use an extendable ladder to fix a jammed roller door of a Hamilton Hill warehouse.
“I leaned underneath the roller door and the ladder fell away from me,” the East Fremantle resident said.
“I distinctly remember thinking two things.
“I couldn’t believe how fast I was falling, and I bent my knees and rolled on my back.
“If I hadn’t I could have put my spine through my skull and I’d be dead.
“I had to drag myself and I started blacking out and I’d have to stop because I knew if I blacked out, no one would find me.”
What followed was more than three months of bed-rest and a total of five months away from his family undergoing rehabilitation in various hospitals.
Mr Pattinson said being bed-ridden affected his mental health, because he used to be active, and while his employer had been supportive, he was eventually let go after Christmas from his job as a manager in Brookton.
Ironically, Mr Pattinson had conducted safety training for his staff and said he should have called someone to help him go up in a bucket lift to fix the roller door.
“It’s a bit of a male thing. If I done it differently, I would have called someone. But I was thinking I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone.”
He encouraged other men to “take five” and think about the possible consequences.
The Department of Commerce and Consumer Protection has begun a campaign to promote ladder safety over concerns the physical and psychological effects of falls can have on seniors.
Fremantle Hospital and Health Service physiotherapy manager Tania Wood said ladder falls could result in hip, ankle and upper limb fractures.
Such injuries could require a lengthy stay in hospital plus a long period of rehabilitation with physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social work services.
For more information and videos, visit www.productsafety.gov.au/laddersafetymatters.
LADDER FACTS AND SAFETY TIPS
Nationally, 1600 men over 65 hospitalised annually with ladder-related injuries.
One third need intensive care and a quarter of these die.
Choose the right ladder and don’t work in wet or windy conditions.
Know your limits and work to your ability and work safely.
Have another person hold the ladder and maintain three points of contact at all times.
Comply with instructions about stable placement and weight capacity.