Ladder Falls: Navy Boots Aren't the Problem

file photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy
file photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy

Published Jul 17, 2019 8:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Naval Safety Center (NAVSAFECEN) has conducted research that demonstrates the inaccuracy of some previous news stories which indicated that the boots issued with the Type III Navy Working Uniform may have contributed to an increase in ladderwell injuries on board ships.  

Slips, trips and falls on ladders are among the most common mishaps reported to the NAVSAFECEN. They result in more lost work days than any other mishap reported.

In March, NAVSAFECEN coordinated a new study using an expanded data set and updated analytical techniques to more accurately review ladderwell injuries. The new study concluded that the boots aren’t the problem. Instead, multiple factors contribute to falls on ladders, including running, carrying heavy objects that obstruct the view and movement, sliding down ladders, and not utilizing the handrails.

The extended study highlighted the need to remind Sailors to take extra precautions when transiting up and down ladders aboard ship. Most shipboard ladder mishaps can be prevented by taking deliberate steps in moving up and down ladders and using the trailing hand technique. The technique is performed by trailing the strongest hand underneath the handrail behind, turning the body slightly toward that hand in order to provide more stepping space on each stair, and descending in a controlled manner.  

If a slip or trip occurs while using the trailing hand technique, physiologically an individual’s wrists and grip on the rail are much stronger, either completely preventing a fall, or directing the fall into a sitting position on the ladder or toward the handrail, preventing injury.