Falls from stepladders: Biomechanical studies on risk factors

Bing-Shiang Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Falls from stepladders cause deaths and injuries in both occupational and nonoccupationalsettings. This article provides insights into possible causes of falls fromstepping onto or balancing on a stepladder, a commonly used device for reaching highplaces. Several biomechanical experimental and modeling simulation studies have beenconducted to investigate the control of human movements on a stepladder-like structure -a raised structure with structural compliance in the user's mediolateral direction. Theprimary findings are (a) when transferring weight laterally on a raised structure, thelateral stability of the structure depends mainly on the height of the tread on which theperson stands; (b) an "unexpected" lateral structural compliance significantly affected theduration of the step-forward-and-up movement (p<0.01) and lateral weight transfervelocity (p<0.001); (c) older males needed more time than did young males to completeone step-up movement (p<0.001); (d) the lateral stability of a raised, laterally-compliantstructure-and-human body was most sensitive to the lateral velocity and displacement ofthe human body center of mass at the trail-foot push-off. When standing on a stepladderor chair, an older individual should use the lowest step possible, avoid hurriedmovements or excessive manual forces, keep the stance foot away from the lateral edgeof the structure, and avoid using non-rigid, parallel-sided structures. He/she shouldpractice stepping and balancing on the structure before actually performing a task. Thedesigners and standard committee might need to consider structural compliance, assuggested in this article, when design/manufacture stepladders.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAccidental Falls
Subtitle of host publicationCauses, Prevention and Intervention
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Pages213-260
Number of pages48
ISBN (Print)9781604567663
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2008

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