Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The demands of vertical ladder ergometer climbing relating to the wind energy industry.

Barron, Peter James


Peter James Barron


Arthur Stewart


The current medical fitness standard guidelines issued by Renewable UK for wind turbine technicians were adopted from the UK Fire and Rescue service. However, on the face of it, the two industries have different demands. This thesis aimed to ascertain the day-to-day nature of the role of a wind turbine technician - specifically, it aimed to understand the effect of external loads on vertical ladder ergometer climbing, the effect of a climb assist device and the effect of space restriction on ladder climbing. A further aim was to understand the difference between climbing a pitched and vertical ladder ergometer. Using an online survey, it was found that 50% of respondents climbed wind turbines on four, five or six days per week. The median turbine height climbed was 36 m whilst carrying external loads up to 15 kg. Finally, of the specific wind turbines involved, only 25% contained climb assist devices. This thesis ascertained that vertical ladder ergometer climbing was significantly (p < 0.05) more demanding than pitched ladder climbing, with a large effect on V̇O2 (d = 1.7 – 3.3) and heart rate (HR)(d = 1.5 – 1.9). The change in pitch leads to the mean V̇O2 across all speeds increasing from 39.1 to 45.5, and mean HR increasing from 148 bpm to 170 bpm. The use of a climb assist device significantly (p < 0.05) decreased mean V̇O2 from 28.3 to 22.0, mean HR from 134 bpm to 114 bpm, and the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) from a median of 3 to a median of 1. Furthermore, descending a vertical ladder has a significantly lower energetic cost than that of ascending, with a significant (p < 0.05) decrease in V̇O2 from 28.3 to 15.3, mean HR from 134 bpm to 111 bpm, and RPE reduced from a median of 2.5 to a median of 1. Climbing vertically with 5 kg significantly increased V̇O2 (36.4 versus 38.1 and HR (162 versus 167 bpm) compared to a no-load condition, while climbing vertically with 10 kg also significantly increased V̇O2 and HR compared to no load (36.4 versus 40.1; 162 versus 170 bpm) and 5 kg condition (38.1 versus 40.1; 162 versus 170 bpm). In comparison to results in unrestricted conditions, there was no significant (p > 0.05) change in the horizontal space required for climbing when a space constraint was applied to participants (0.88 m, 1.03 m or 1.23 m). This thesis found that, depending on the speed and/or the presence of an external load, the intensity of vertical ladder ergometer climbing exceeds that of the medical fitness guidelines. This thesis therefore proposes that future work should re-examine the medical fitness standard - the research also highlights that more studies are needed in order to create an evidence base from which to design a bespoke industry fitness standard.


BARRON, P.J. 2019. The demands of vertical ladder ergometer climbing relating to the wind energy industry. Robert Gordon University [online], PhD thesis. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jan 27, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 27, 2020
Keywords Wind turbine technicians; Fire and rescue service; Physical employment standards; Fitness standards; Fitness guidelines; Ladder climbing; Vertical ladder climbing; Ergometer
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations