Introduction A leading cause of worker injury in the fruit tree industry involves orchard ladder stability and the level of awareness of the user when climbing and dismounting the ladder. Due to cultural and economic reasons, industry acceptance of all-new designs has been low. Rather than radically changing ladder design to address these issues, a better approach is to design safety features into currently-used ladders. Technology description Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a smart ladder that employs electronic sensors that inform the user of potentially dangerous circumstances. Sensors on the bottom rung of the ladder warn the user that they have reached the bottom rung; load cells and inclinometers attached to the ladders’
legs will determine the slopes associated with various conditions. An on-ladder chip will process the information and warnings (audible, visual, electric, or radio wave)
notify the user of unsafe conditions. Business opportunity The smart ladder technology will address a leading hazard in industry, such as the tree fruit industry. In addition to its use in the field, the ladder may be used to evaluate the efficacy of training programs and cost effectiveness of interventions. Stage of development A working model of the smart ladder has been achieved and tested. Intellectual property position The UW is currently reviewing this technology for worldwide patent protection.
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