Step Stools with Retractable Casters--Safe if Maintained and Used Properly
March 24, 1998
A recent injury report told of an LLNL employee who slipped off a roll-around stool while trying to stand on it. Apparently, the stool slid away from him, causing him to fall backwards onto the floor. The injury was sufficient to require the employee to be placed on work restriction for several weeks. Inspection of the step stool found significant defects in the stool rendering it inappropriate for safe use.
What Was Learned?
Two safety features of the rolling step stool were not functioning. First, the rubber base ring no longer existed, leaving the stool without a firm and steady foundation. Second, the ribbed rubber safety treads on the top step were damaged, leaving the stool without a firm, nonslip top step.
Proper maintenance of rolling step stools is critical to their safe use. Rubber strips at the base of the stools must be properly in place to assure the stool doesn't slip out when being used. Of equal importance is that the rubber treads on the flat surfaces are in place and in good condition. Most stools have a listing of replacement parts on the underside of the bottom step.
In March 1998, a Lessons Learned was issued (above) when an LLNL employee was injured while attempting to stand on a roll-around stool. Inspection of the step stool revealed significant defects in the stool, rendering it inappropriate for safe use. Prior to March, another Lab employee had experienced an injury that required surgery when a step stool slipped out from under her.
The step stool is a two-piece design. The top piece has 3 legs that attach to the bottom piece with 2 nuts and bolts through each leg. (See Figs. 1 and 2.) Note that Fig. 1 is a typical footstool, but with the rubber non-slip ring missing from the bottom lip of the stool. The step stool involved in this incident, allegedly had a leg which was missing the nuts and bolts so that the leg gave way when the individual reached the top step causing the fall.
What Was Learned?
In July, ES&H Team Industrial Safety Engineers, assisted by individual program personnel, conducted an informal survey of step stools. Of 315 step stools surveyed, 163 (52%) required maintenance. The results of this survey indicate that the previous Lessons Learned did not stimulate the necessary improved maintenance of the step stools.
Proper maintenance of any type of step stool is critical to safe use. Most stools have a listing of replacement parts on the underside of the bottom step.
1. Individuals should inspect ALL step stools in the work place prior to using them. Do not wait for a safety inspection or assessment.
2. Repair those that have ANY defect prior to use. Properly discard and replace those that cannot be repaired.
3. Train employees about the proper selection and use of ladders and step stools.
Plenty of them around, offices, shops, warehouse etc and I bet not that many are checked!