These Chairs Are Made For Sitting…

Have you ever been tempted to stand on your office or classroom chair or desk to get something from the top cupboard?  Or maybe it was to hang some Christmas decorations or change a light bulb.

Why are we tempted to stand on our chair or desk – or worse still – our chair on top of our desk?

If you asked 100 people, we think the top answer would be to save time.  Can you hear the messages in your head now – oh I just need to get this or change that, it will only take a second or two, I don’t have time to get the step ladder or the step ladder is way down the other end of the building and so on…..

So in our mind we instantly trade a minute or two of our time for our personal safety.  It’s a bad trade. Why – because the injuries that can result from a fall from a chair or desk (or height generally) can rob us (and our families) of days, weeks, months and in some cases years or even the rest of our lives.  We know most of us think it will never happen to me – but the RMS records reveal that it does happen to people who thought it would never happen to them!

The best way to not fall is to stay on the ground (sorry to state the obvious) so first ask yourself is there another way that I can do this without leaving the ground – maybe it is as simple as using a long handled grabber?

If that is not possible then it is safer to use a step ladder in the office or classroom than to stand on your chair or desk.  But remember you can fall from a ladder too – so you need to use ladders properly and safely.  RMS has developed a Falls Prevention and Ladder Use Policy, A Safety Guide to Ladders and a Ladder Inspection Checklist that are suitable for most office and classroom situations.  Implementing policies and procedures like these will help ensure that step ladders are appropriate for the task, rated for industrial use and in good condition.  They will also help you to train and remind your staff about using ladders safely.

RMS recently provided* 118 step ladders to 26 Adventist Schools in NSW, Western Australia and Tasmania to help reduce the likelihood of teachers standing on chairs and desks.  Teachers are often hanging items from their classroom walls and ceilings to create interesting learning environments for their students.  As we said earlier, the step ladders will be safer than standing on chairs and the desks – but it is now important for these schools to adopt safe ladder use procedures and to train their teachers on the safe use of ladders – else in trying to reduce one risk you simply introduce another!

You are probably thinking this is such basic information – and we agree.  But often it is these simple things that we overlook or skip over quickly to save that precious minute or two. So before you are tempted to use that chair or desk for a little extra height – pause – and then take the extra time to do it safely.

*RMS would like to acknowledge the support of GIO who provided the funding for the ladders in these states and to Seton who provided a discount to make that funding go further.