Reaching on Ladders: Do Motivation & Acclimation Affect Risk Taking?
- Angela T. DiDomenico (Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety) | Mary F. Lesch (Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety) | Michael F. Blair (Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety) | Yueng-Hsiang Huang (Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- February 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 50 - 53
- 2013. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 43 since 2007
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Ladders are widely used by workers on many jobsites, and falls from ladders occur at a high frequency. Falls from ladders account for a large portion of workplace injuries related to falls from heights. In fact, in 2010, 129 workers died after falling from a ladder (BLS, 2010a) and 14,710 suffered an injury that required at least 1 day out of work, with the median number of days away from work being 25 (BLS, 2010b). The frequency of falls from ladders and the severity of the injuries involved create a critical safety issue.A recent study of workers who were injured while using a ladder found that 51.3% reported standing and working on the ladder when the incident occurred (Lombardi, Smith, Courtney, et al., 2011). Further-more, 51.0% of falls occurred while the individual was using a stepladder.
Stepladders have a large base of sup-port and are traditionally formed in an "A" shape, with up-per treads narrower than lower treads. Although guidelines recommend that the body remain within the rails of the ladder (the "belly button" or "belt buckle" rule), many falls occur because of lateral movement and extended reaching while performing a task. Injuries 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.
Numerous factors may interact to influence reaching behavior while working on a stepladder. For example, research indicates that the more familiar users are with a product, the less likely they are to look for or read warning information (Dorris & Purswell, 1977; Godfrey & Laughery, 1993). That is, users with greater familiarity of a product tend to perceive less of a hazard associated with its use, which, in turn, decreases the likelihood of their com-plying with associated safety precautions. Therefore, novice ladder users might be expected to take fewer risks than more experienced users and to increase their level of risk-taking as experience increases.
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