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Research to improve extension ladder angular positioning.

Simeonov-P; Hsiao-H; Powers-J; Kim-I-J; Kau-T-Y; Weaver-D
Appl Ergon 2013 May; 44(3):496-502
A leading cause for extension ladder fall incidents is a slide-out event usually related to suboptimal ladder inclination. An improved ladder positioning method or procedure could reduce the risk of ladder stability failure and the related fall injury. The objective of the study was to comparatively evaluate the effectiveness of a multimodal angle indicator with other existing methods for extension ladder angular positioning. Twenty experienced and 20 inexperienced ladder users participated in the study. Four ladder positioning methods were tested in a controlled laboratory environment with 4.88 m (16 ft) and 7.32 m (24 ft) ladders in extended and retracted positions. The positioning methods included a no-instruction method, the current standard anthropometric method, and two instrumental methods - a bubble level indicator, and a multimodal indicator providing direct feedback with visual and sound signals. Performance measures included positioning angle and time. The results indicated that the anthropometric method was effective in improving the extension ladder positioning angle (p < 0.001); however, it was associated with considerable variability and required 50% more time than no-instruction. The bubble level indicator was an accurate positioning method (with very low variability), but required more than double the time of the no-instruction method (p < 0.001). The multimodal indicator improved the ladder angle setting as compared to the no-instruction and anthropometry methods (p < 0.001) and required the least time for ladder positioning among the tested methods (p < 0.001). An indicator with direct multimodal feedback is a viable approach for quick and accurate ladder positioning. The main advantage of the new multimodal method is that it provides continuous feedback on the angle of the device and hence does not require repositioning of the ladder. Furthermore, this indicator can be a valuable tool for training ladder users to correctly apply the current ANSI A14 standard anthropometric method in ladder angular positioning. The multimodal indicator concept has been further developed to become a hand-held tool in the form of a smart phone application.
Ladders; Fall-protection; Injuries; Analytical-processes; Laboratory-testing; Equipment-design; Equipment-reliability; Training; Author Keywords: Extension ladders; Ladder safety; Angular positioning; Anthropometric method; Angle indicators; Multimodal indicator
P. Simeonov, Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Rd., Morgantown, WV 26505
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Applied Ergonomics