Factors affecting fall severity from a ladder

Impact of climbing direction, gloves, gender and adaptation
Ladder falls cause many fatal injuries. The factors that affect whether a ladder perturbation leads to a fall are not well understood. This study quantified the effects of several factors on a person's ability to recover from a ladder perturbation. Thirty-five participants each experienced six unexpected ladder missteps, for three glove conditions (bare hands, high friction, low friction) and two climbing directions (ascent, descent). Fall severity was increased during ladder descent (p < 0.001). Gloves did not affect fall severity. Females compared to males had greater fall severity during ascent (p < 0.001) and descent (p = 0.018). During ascent, females had greater fall severity during the second perturbation but similar fall severity to males during the other perturbations. Additional protection may be needed when descending a ladder. Also, females may benefit from targeted interventions like training. This study does not suggest that gloves are effective for preventing ladder falls.

Source: Pliner, E. M., Seo, N. J., & Beschorner, K. E. (2017). Applied Ergonomics, 60, 163-170.

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