Safety ladders offer several ways to protect their users, from surrounding ‘hoops’ to reduce the risk of falling backwards, to interstitial platforms designed to allow climbers to rest on a secure surface partway up or down.
But a further consideration is how much toe clearance is left between the rungs of the ladder and the wall to which it is mounted; this can have a significant bearing on the positioning of the foot, and the stability of the climber.
Research published in the academic journal Ergonomics looks at the effect of foot placement, hand positioning, age and ‘climbing biodynamics’ on ladder users, and their risks of slipping.
The researchers found that the youngest and oldest adults in their study were at greater overall risk of slipping, suggesting that people aged close to 18 or 65 might benefit from additional training and other precautions.
But all age groups were at greater risk when toe clearance was limited – indicating that less choice of foot placement makes it harder to balance.
“Maintaining sufficient toe clearance and targeting ladder safety training to younger and older workers may reduce ladder falls,” the authors write.
And by using safety ladders mounted to the wall in the correct way, you can be sure that the rungs are positioned as they should be, leaving less risk of a slip due to poor foot positioning.