The Ladder Safety app earned a merit award from the Digital Health Awards, a program that recognizes the world’s best digital health resources for consumers and health professionals.
What is the Ladder Safety app?
The Ladder Safety app, NIOSH’s first mobile application, is designed to improve extension and step ladder safety—a concern for those working in construction or any other task that requires ladder use. The app provides user-friendly guides and interactive tools to prevent major causes of falls:
- Angle Measuring Tool—Uses visual, sound, and vibration signals to make it easier for users to set an extension ladder at the proper angle (approximately 75 degrees) and to check the verticality of extension and step ladders.
- Selection Tool—Provides a procedure to select the minimum required ladder duty rating corresponding to user characteristics and task.
- Inspection Tool—Includes a comprehensive checklist for ladder mechanical inspection.
- Proper Use Tool—Presents a set of rules for safe ladder use in a user-friendly format.
- Accessories Tool— Describes a number of available extension ladder safety accessories.What are the causes of ladder falls?
- Ladder fall injuries are a persistent hazard both in the workplace and at home. There are five major causes for ladder fall incidents:
- Using smart phone technology, the NIOSH Ladder Safety app delivers ladder safety tools, information, reference materials, and training resources into the hands of individual ladder users wherever and whenever they are needed. The app is available in English and Spanish as a free download for Apple iPhone/iPad and Google Android devices.
- Incorrect extension ladder setup angle—In approximately 40% of cases, the leading cause of ladder-related injuries is a ladder sliding out at the base due to an incorrect setup angle. Ladder users tend to set extension ladders at shallower angles than the optimal desired angle (75 degrees).
- Inappropriate ladder selection—Selection of a ladder with the proper duty-rating is also important to avoid structural failure. However, many ladder users lack knowledge of proper ladder selection.
- Insufficient ladder inspection—You can reduce the likelihood of ladder structural failure by practicing regular inspection and maintenance.
- Improper ladder use—Activities such as overreaching, carrying objects, applying excessive force, slips, and missteps are also frequent causes of ladder-related fall injuries.
- Lack of access to ladder safety tools and information—Small companies that account for up to 80% of all construction companies, and individual ladder users, such as homeowners, do not typically receive the required training for safe use of portable ladders. Such ladder users are difficult to reach, often do not have access to safety information, and generally lack the resources to develop or follow an effective ladder safety program.
Are ladder falls an extensive problem?
In the United States, more than 500,000 people per year are treated—and about 300 people die—from ladder-related injuries. The estimated annual cost of ladder injuries in the U.S. is $11 billion, including work loss, medical, legal, liability, and pain and suffering expenses. Recent data analysis from three surveillance systems showed that in 2011, work-related ladder fall injuries in the U.S. resulted in 113 fatalities, an estimated 15,460 nonfatal injuries that involved days away from work, and an estimated 34,000 nonfatal injuries treated in emergency departments. Workers who are male, Hispanic, older, self-employed, work in smaller establishments, and work doing construction, maintenance, and repair experience higher ladder fall injury rates. There is a pressing need to address the serious problem of ladder-related falls and to reduce the resulting injury and death.