Overreaching on Ladders: Motivated to Succeed or Fail?
- Angela DiDomenico (ARCCA, Inc) | Mary F. Lesch (Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- ASSE Professional Development Conference and Exposition, 7-10 June, Dallas, Texas
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2015. American Society of Safety Engineers
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- 18 since 2007
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Falls from ladders remain a critical safety issue within the workplace due to the frequency at which falls occur and the severity of the resulting injuries. Guidelines for safe ladder use state that the body should remain within the rails of the ladder (“belly button” or “belt buckle” rule), yet, many ladder falls occur while workers are performing extended lateral reaches during task performance. Falls can occur because the individual loses balance and falls off the ladder or because the ladder tips over, causing the individual to fall with it.
Training regarding safe practices while using a ladder typically includes reaching guidelines, however, workers still overreach. Even with proper training, it is possible that workers will overreach due to other factors, motivations and influences. Workers may recognize the risk but determine that the additional risk is warranted to eliminate the time required to descend the ladder, reposition it, and ascend the ladder while performing a given task. The priority level given to safety, as dictated by coworkers and management, as compared to productivity will play an important role during this decision-making process. The relationship between overreaching and ladder falls must be emphasized during safety training. Practitioners at all levels need to better understand the ways in which workers are sometimes motivated to perform tasks unsafely. This paper will explore the effect of motivation (task completion) on lateral reach distances performed by experienced ladder users while working on stepladders of different heights.
Participants in the study included 24 experienced male ladder users. The mean (sd) age, heights and weights were 47.8 (12.3) years, 173.6 (5.5) cm and 89.6 (12.1) kg, respectively. Participants had normal or corrected vision in both eyes and were free of known musculoskeletal and balance problems. Participants changed into sportswear and low-rise trail shoes (Nike Bandolier II) provided by the research team. A full body harness attached to a belay system was donned to maintain safety of the participants throughout the experiment. Motion capture markers were placed on the body to identify the location of body segments. Additional markers were placed on the ladders to identify the location of the rails and rungs relative to the body (e.g. reaching arm).
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