Ladder deaths among home DIY dangers
An elderly man's fatal fall from a ladder serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of home DIY.
After stumbling indoors with a head wound and bloodied face, Stavros Mitsakis muttered to his wife: "the bloody thing. I didn't bother to put the chock under the ladder".
Two days later, in September 2020, the 79-year-old Tasmanian man died as a result of his fall.
A coroner's review of the case, published this week, noted that older men are over-represented in deaths around the home while performing DIY.
"Over the years, there have been many instances of people suffering catastrophic injuries, sometimes not infrequently resulting in death, while performing home maintenance tasks using ladders," Coroner Olivia McTaggart wrote in her report.
Mr Mitsakis had a long history of performing building and maintenance tasks and was described by his wife "as strong as an ox".
His fall was not witnessed, but an examination of the site found he was working on a relatively level area at the top of a slope, and that some of the ground nearby was damp.
"Mr Mitsakis likely fell five metres to the ground, possibly rolling down an embankment and coming to a stop on the concrete driveway," Ms McTaggart wrote.
There were blocks of wood on the ground, presumably previously used as chocks beneath the feet of the ladder. There were also lengths of twine around the top of the ladder, believed to have been used to tie it to the house.
Mr Mitsakis was hospitalised with a vertebra fracture at the base of the skull. He suffered a stroke later that night and died two days later.
Mr Mitsakis had been fitting boards beneath the eaves of his home to keep birds out of the roof, when he fell.
"Often, these tasks are very familiar to the person who has engaged in them many times throughout their lives," Ms McTaggart said.
"Older males are over-represented in the deaths occurring in this manner."
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