University of Pittsburgh Professor to Develop Safer Ladders with Help From NIOSH Grant

Kurt Beschorner receives a $1.8M NIOSH grant to develop safer ladder design and climbing practices

Ladder safety is always top of mind to those working in the occupational safety and health industry. With 29 CFR 1926.1053 (Ladders, construction) still appearing on the list of Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards and an estimated $24 billion in annual costs of ladder injuries in the U.S., it is imperative that ladder safety and policies be researched and developed.

The University of Pittsburg's Kurt Beschorner will use a $1.8 million grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop safer ladder designers and individual risk factors of ladder falls, according to a press release. The work will focus on measuring friction as the pathway for the ladder and individual to influence slip and fall risk.

“A slip happens when there is insufficient friction between the shoe surface and ladder rung, but little is known about how ladder design or an individual’s body affects slip and fall risk,” said Beschorner, associate professor of bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.

Under Beschorner, the lab will use two measurements to determine the impact of ladder designs and individual factors on slip and fall risk: required friction and available friction. He explained that available friction is the amount that occurs between the shoe and the rung. When the friction is less than the amount "required" to complete the task, there is risk of a slip-and-fall event. 

“This award gives us an opportunity to develop a mechanistic model to see how these individual factors influence fall risk,” he continued. “We will study these measurements of friction and how they relate to slipping in order to establish safety guidelines, which will hopefully lead to a significant reduction in severe injuries and fatalities in both the workplace and at home.”

To learn more about this research visit

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2022

    June 2022


      Corporate Safety Culture Is Workplace Culture
      Keeping Workers Safe from Heat-Related Illnesses & Injuries
      Should Employers Consider Oral Fluid Drug Testing?
      Addressing Physical Differences
    View This Issue