Safe last step

Introduction A common cause of injury among orchard workers in Washington state occurs when the user dismounts the ladder. The user often cannot accurately gauge the last step of the ladder because the line of sight is obscured by the apple bag when descending the ladder, with their back facing the ladder. The user may inadvertently step off the ladder at an upper rung causing falls that can be dangerous, especially with loaded fruit bags. Technology description Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a method of alerting the ladder user when they reach the last rung of the ladder. The device is a strain gauge or piezo-crystal connected to a rung of the ladder. A deflection in the rung causes a signal to be generated and ultimately, a stimulus is sent to the ladder user, making them aware of their position on the ladder. The signal is aural, visual, electric, or radio wave. The device also logs the number of times the last rung is missed by the user, which allows assessment of the efficacy of the warning system. Business opportunity The safe last step technology will address a leading hazard in the fruit tree industry by alerting ladder users they have reached the last rung of the ladder, thereby reducing the risk that they fall off a higher rung. It has the potential to save money and time due to workplace injuries. Stage of development A working model of the safe last step device has been achieved and tested. Intellectual property position The UW is currently reviewing this technology for worldwide patent protection. For more information on this technology contact:
Kelly FitzGerald Technology Manager 206-685-3862

Type of Offer: Licensing

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