Have you ever needed to reach something, but didn’t feel like taking the time to find a ladder or stepstool? You might be tempted to use a makeshift device in lieu of a ladder. These kinds of devices are everywhere in schools — examples can include tables, chairs, desktops, countertops, window ledges, books, appliances and even toilets. At CM Regent, customers have submitted claims for accidents resulting from using all these objects instead of a ladder.
Today is Falls Prevention Awareness Day, so we’re giving you some important pieces of information about why it’s important to use ladders or stepstools safely.
- Falling isn’t the only risk associated with using inappropriate items in lieu of a ladder. Once you complete the out-of-reach task, you now have to step back down to the floor. The distance from a makeshift device to the floor could be much farther than the distance from the bottom rung of a ladder to the floor. You could put yourself at risk of a sprained ankle, a knee injury or other problem that could cause chronic pain.
- You should never make a short ladder taller by putting something under the legs. This is just another way of creating a makeshift ladder. When you stand the ladder on something else, you make it unstable, which can cause you to fall.
- Stepstools are useful tools, but don’t forget their limitations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines a stepstool as a self-supporting, foldable, portable ladder that is non-adjustable in length and 32 inches or less in overall size that has flat steps and no pail shelf. It is designed so you can climb on the top cap as well as all steps. While you can use it to access an area that is out of reach, it can increase your risk of a
fall because it doesn’t allow you to maintain a three-point contact. If your feet should slip, you don’t have anywhere to grasp onto to keep your balance. Be extra careful when using a stepstool.
- Always follow proper ladder safety rules. This includes:
- Inspecting the ladder before using it.
- Setting the ladder on stable ground, and not on anything that may slip, like a rug.
- Asking someone to hold the base of the ladder.
- Never using the top rung.
As you head back to school this fall, remind your employees of other important safety tips.