Office of Undergraduate Research

Ergonomics and Engineering Intervention for Ladder Fall Injuries for Construction Workers

Falls from ladders are a major cause of fatal and disabling injuries among workers. The hands are the only interface available to grasp a ladder and arrest the falling body to prevent injury once a fall has been initiated. The research objective is to improve biomechanical understanding of workers capability to hold onto a ladder and workers response time to arrest a fall once it has been initiated. This research will quantify and investigate biomechanical mechanisms for (1) the effects of friction condition at the hand-rung interface and rung shape on a persons capability to hold onto a ladder rung, and (2) the effect of wearing gloves on his/her reaction time to perturbation of the rung grip or initiation of a fall. Three glove conditions (bare hand, PVC glove, cotton glove) and two rung designs (circular and rectangular cross-section) that are frequently encountered at workplaces will be examined as factors associated with a persons capability to hold onto a ladder or to arrest a fall. Knowledge obtained in this research can lead to improved ladder and workplace design, and achieving the long-term goal to prevent fatal and disabling injuries from ladder falls as well as upper extremity fatigue among workers.

Tasks and responsibilities:

1) set up experiment including machining and assembling parts, establishing a computer network to collect data, recruiting research subjects 2) conduct laboratory experiments 3) analyze data using MATLAB and perform statistical analysis 4) write a conference paper and a journal paper that describes and summarizes the findings from the experiment.