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The perilous move: Massive ladder trucks cause safety fears
Published : Feb 23, 2022 - 15:47
Updated : Feb 23, 2022 - 16:29

A ladder truck that has rolled over while loading household items to the 22nd floor of an apartment complex in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, Jan. 25. (Yonhap)
A series of accidents involving trucks mounted with aerial ladders have prompted safety concerns in South Korea, where these ladders are widely used for moving in and out of tall apartment buildings.

On Monday, a ladder of a moving truck collapsed in an apartment complex in Nowon-gu, Seoul, killing one resident and injuring another. Police suspect the ladder’s length at the time of the accident to have been around 40 meters, given that the accident took place after finishing moving household items to a 17th floor apartment.

The ladder, while being folded, fell sideways after its lower part connected to the vehicle broke.

Two residents in an apartment, a 70-year-old woman and her 6-year-old grandson ,were hit by the ladder. The grandmother died after being taken to hospital with a head injury. The child had a dental injury and minor abrasions. Six vehicles were hit by the ladder and damaged.

Police are investigating the cause of the accident, leaving various possibilities open, such as the influence of strong winds at the site and mistakes in the operation of the ladder truck.

On Feb. 3, a ladder truck lost its balance and rolled over while it was loading household items up to the balcony of a 24th floor apartment in Incheon.

No casualties were reported in the accident, but the ladder equipment collapsed along with the vehicle, damaging a part of the road and restricting traffic in the apartment complex.

A similar case took place in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province on Jan. 25. 
A ladder truck that has rolled over while loading household items to the 22nd floor of an apartment complex in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, Jan. 25. (Yonhap)
In an apartment in the city, a ladder truck that was moving luggage to the 22nd floor lost its center of gravity and fell. A delivery truck and trees were damaged in the accident, but no one was injured. Police believe that the accident occurred because the ladder truck’s support parts were not properly fixed.

In a country where apartments accounted for 62.9 percent of all housing units, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea in 2021, moving ladder trucks are frequently used to quickly move items to high floors. But nonbinding safety rules and moving companies’ failure to abide by them appear to have contributed to the accidents.

An absence of regulations that requires a person in charge to block the entry of pedestrians while such a ladder is in use poses a greater chance of accidents.

According to the safety rules, moving work is prohibited in case of heavy rain or strong wind, but it is often violated to avoid penalty for breach of contract.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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