Falls from height is one of the leading causes of death among construction workers and ladders are a major contributor to that number. According to the CDC, falls from ladders caused 64 fatalities and 11,500 injuries in the construction industry alone in 2011. There are many things ladder users can do to make their work safer, like setting it at proper angles on level ground, checking for damage, and maintaining 3 points of contact, among others. One technology company is trying to take some of the thinking out of ladder set up.
A company called Balco Lifestyle, from Melbourne, Australia, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their product called Step Smart. Step Smart is a ladder attachment that senses when a ladder has been set up at unsafe angles. The device mounts to the ladder using telescopic brackets and audibly and visually alerts the user if the ladder becomes unstable. Red or green lights indicate the status of the ladder and slow beep and fast beep alarms alert the user to issues.
Like most warning devices, this will not prevent ladder falls from occurring, but it could potentially reduce the amount of falls from early detection. I have no doubt the technology will work, but I admit I’m a little skeptical that contractors would actually use it on job sites. The sensor is a little bit bigger that I thought it would be and its placement could get in the way of your feet as your climbing or descending.
Early bird pricing is currently set at around $43 American ($55 AUD) and will bump up to around $62 after the fundraiser is over. The Kickstarter campaign ends in September and support has been slow so far, with only $527 of $31,767 raised.
What do you think? Would you use this product on your ladders? Check out the video below for more information: