Research + Tech

NIOSH awards $1.8 million grant for ladder safety research

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has awarded a $1.8 million grant to a University of Pittsburgh professor to develop safer ladder designs and explore individual risk factors for ladder falls, according to The grant was awarded to Kurt Beschorner, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, and will help determine what constitutes a safe ladder.

Falls are one of the most common types of job-site injuries in the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that among U.S. construction workers, an estimated 81% of fall injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involve ladder use.

The new research will focus on measuring friction and its role in influencing slip and fall risks on ladders. Beschorner says if friction is too low between a ladder rung and an individual’s shoe or boot, the individual’s foot can slip off of the ladder, leading to a fall.

“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,” Beschorner says.

The study will consist of human participant testing and mechanical testing. The human participant testing will examine different ladder climber populations (male vs. female, obesity groups, height groups). The mechanical testing will allow researchers to determine how rung design influences friction. The team will combine human participant data and mechanics data to predict when a slip will occur.

Previous work from students in the school’s Human Movement & Balance Laboratory found older adults, inexperienced climbers and people with less body strength are at increased risk of ladder falls. The new study will build on the preliminary findings and extend the lab’s previous work regarding friction between shoes and walking surfaces to ladder slipping.

Past research has shown the angle of a ladder influences the risk of slipping. Researchers also found fall risk after a simulated foot slip was higher for females than males, an effect explained by differences in upper-body strength. Beschorner says these preliminary results suggest ladder design influences fall risk, and current ladders may be inappropriately designed for certain groups of ladder users.

Core launches skills-matching construction jobs app

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Core has launched a construction jobs app designed to better connect workers and their skills with construction companies that are hiring, according to The Crews by Core app uses algorithms to produce a “match score” between workers’ actual skills and companies’ open positions.

Core CEO Di-Ann Eisnor says the company’s mission is to address the ongoing labor shortage in the construction industry.

“We don’t want people scrolling through lots of irrelevant positions,” says Eisnor. “Instead, we want to give [users] a few of the best jobs available using that match score, which requires a lot of heavy lifting on the technology side.”

The company joins an increasingly crowded field of technology firms trying to solve the challenge of connecting tradespeople looking for work with construction companies. But Eisnor says the problem of construction hiring is so large there is plenty of market share for multiple construction-specific job placement apps.

Crews by Core files workers’ certifications, licenses and references, which are manually verified by Core staff. An algorithm pairs job seekers and open positions, and the data is accessed via a QR code, which can be scanned on a job site.

Eisnor personally interviewed more than 1,500 construction workers to develop Core and its offerings. She noticed construction workers are often better at doing their jobs than promoting their capabilities.

“In tech, people are good at using the right buzzwords to talk about what they’re good at,” Eisnor says. “But in construction, a lot of times workers’ resumes don’t do their abilities justice. We need to work a little harder to bring out the skills in the trades.”

To do so, Core’s technology is paired with human engagement and a global team to scale referrals, deploy talent and grow construction careers.

Crews by Core is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Additional information is available at



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