Solution Summary: Ladder Safety Mobile Application
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) "Ladder Safety" application (app) is a free mobile tool for smart phones that ensure the safety of workers when using straight/extension (non-self-supporting) portable ladders, excluding stepladders. This app features a multimodal indicator, which uses visual, sound and vibration signals to assist the user in positioning an extension-ladder at an optimal angle. It also provides interactive reference materials, safety guidelines and checklists for extension-ladder selection, inspection, accessorizing, and use.
The app addresses the major causes of ladder falls by providing a number of interactive and graphic-oriented tools and information for ladder users. The information in this app is based on the ANSI A14 Ladder Safety Standards.
The app's "Measuring Tool" tab (figure 1) features an angle of inclination indicator that uses visual, sound, and vibration signals to aid workers in setting an extension ladder at the proper angle of approximately 75.5 degrees with a + 2 degrees acceptable range.
Figure 1. NIOSH "Measuring Tool" interface as shown on an iOS interface (Photo courtesy of NIOSH)
The app's "Ladder Safety" tab (figure 2) provides users with the following options to click on:
- Considerations: provides a series of suggestions when planning a job at elevation
- Selection: provides a data-input interface for users in determining the minimum required ladder duty-rating (figure 3)
- Inspection: provides a guided ladder diagram checklist when performing ladder mechanical inspection
- Set Up: provides tips for setting up the ladder
- Proper Use: provides safety tips for using the ladder as well as OSHA regulations and ANSI A14 standards in a graphic format
- Accessories: describes 10 ladder safety accessories, such as ladder levelers, cable (strand) hooks, etc.
Figure 2. NIOSH "Ladder Safety" interface as shown on an iOS platform (Photo courtesy of NIOSH)
Figure 3. Ladder selection with sample rating stickers as shown on iOS platform (Photo courtesy of NIOSH)
The app is available in English and Spanish as a free download for Apple iPhone/iPad and Google Android devices.
Falls from ladders are a major cause of injuries both in the workplace and at home. There are five major causes for extension-ladder falls:
- incorrect ladder setup angle,
- inappropriate ladder selection,
- insufficient ladder inspection,
- improper ladder use, and
- lack of access to ladder safety tools and information.
Falls-from-ladders are a leading cause of fall injury and death. In the US, more than 500,000 people a year are treated, and about 300 people die, from ladder-related fall injuries. The estimated annual cost of ladder injuries in the US is $11 billion, including work loss, medical, legal, liability, and pain and suffering expenses. Recent analysis of data from three surveillance systems showed that in 2011, work-related ladder fall injuries in the US 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.
How Risks are Reduced:
The NIOSH Ladder Safety app delivers free and easy-to-use ladder safety tools and information, reference materials, and training resource for individual ladder users. The app can help address the risk of ladder falls by helping users make the proper ladder selection at a correct angle as well as provide informational material and guidance on safe ladder use.
NIOSH recommends periodically checking the app/phone system against a pre-verified vertical surface for a 90-degree reading to ensure accuracy. Check the app/phone system if the phone has been dropped or exposed to any adverse condition.
- Inspect and use scaffolds and ladders