Electrician construction workers routinely use extension ladders in their work, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a free smart phone app to help them scale the necessary heights more safely.
“It’s a simple idea, but those are often the best. Construction workers just place their mobile phone against the ladder, and the app determines if the ladder’s inclination angle is correctly set at 77.5 degrees,” said Jerry Rivera, NECA Director, Safety. Rivera serves on the NIOSH National Occupation Research Agenda Construction Industry Council.
The app’s inclination indicator allows most mobile phones to provide both a visual and an audible signal when the ladder angle is correctly set. The NIOSH Division of Safety Research tested and patented the concept of the app’s inclination indicator. They compared existing ladder positioning methods and found that the indicator improved both the accuracy and efficiency for ladder positioning.
“It’s easy to misjudging the ladder angle. If the ladder is set too steeply, it is more likely to fall back or slide away during use. If it is set too shallow then the bottom can slide out. This app removes the guesswork, and it’s very quick to check,” Rivera said. Rivera also reminds electrical workers to check the PPE Selector before beginning work on extension ladders, as additional safety precautions may be necessary.
The Ladder Safety app also includes guidelines for selecting the correct ladder for a job and information about ladder inspection, accessorizing and use. The science and research behind the development of the ladder safety app can be found online.
“Falls continue to be the leading cause of jobsite injuries for construction workers, and many are preventable.” Rivera said. NIOSH is leading an initiative to reduce workplace falls, include falls from ladders. More information is posted on the NIOSH website and at stopconstructionfalls.com.
The NIOSH ladder safety app for mobile devices is available through the NIOSH website, the Apple App Store and the Android Market.