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Factors Contributing to Ladder Falls and Broader Impacts on Safety and Biomechanics

Pliner, Erika M (2020) Factors Contributing to Ladder Falls and Broader Impacts on Safety and Biomechanics. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Ladder falls cause disabling injury and death in the workplace and at home. Numerous scenarios lead to ladder falls given the variation in ladder types and how they are used. Of the potential factors influencing ladder fall risk under these different scenarios, many have yet to be investigated. This dissertation used a multifaceted approach to determine ladder fall risk factors. Specifically, this dissertation tested younger and older adults, designed occupational and domestic based ladder experiments, and investigated factors that precede and follow a ladder falling event. Aim 1 of this dissertation identified individual factors associated with safe and effective domestic ladder use among older adults. Balance measured with clinical assessments was a primary predictor of safe and effective ladder use. Aim 2 of this dissertation determined individual, environmental and biomechanical factors that aid in arresting a falling event from a ladder. Ascending climbs, males, greater upper body strength, higher hand placement during recovery and reestablishing at least one foot back onto the ladder during recovery were associated with reduced ladder fall severity (i.e. better recovery). Surprisingly, glove condition was not found to contribute to ladder fall severity. Hand-rung forces were correlated with the severity of the falling event and not an individual’s ability to generate force, suggesting that these forces are dependent on the circumstances of the perturbation. Findings from this dissertation may guide fall interventions (e.g. screenings, improvements in safety standards, perturbation response training, ladder re-design). Therefore, this work is expected to have impact on the safety field by reducing ladder fall injuries. Furthermore, this work contributes new knowledge to the biomechanics of ladder use and fall recovery. As part of a larger strategy to improve safety for all populations, increased diversity is needed in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Aim 3 of this dissertation utilized biomechanics as a link to develop a student-interest based pedagogy to improve engagement of underrepresented groups in the STEM fields. This work found lectures tailored to student interests to increase student engagement. Long-term effects from this work can increase diversity in the STEM fields including safety.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pliner, Erika Memp95@pitt.eduemp950000-0002-0713-5675
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBeschorner, Kurt Ebeschorn@pitt.edubeschorn0000-0002-3058-2617
Committee CoChairLord, Stephen
Committee MemberRedfern, Mark Smredfern@pitt.edumredfern0000-0003-0097-4641
Committee MemberNovak, Alison Calison.novak@uhn.ca0000-0001-5073-3155
Committee MemberMahboobin, Arashmahboobin@pitt.edumahboobin0000-0003-2056-6717
Date: 30 July 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 January 2020
Approval Date: 30 July 2020
Submission Date: 21 February 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 292
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Bioengineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ladder falls, climbing biomechanics, postural control, student engagement
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2020 18:09
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2020 18:09


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