How one school district is preventing falls among staff

Independent School District 911, Cambridge-Isanti Public Schools , implemented a stepladder program to decrease falls from chairs, and got much more.

“By putting stepladders around our schools, giving teachers and other faculty easy access to them, we not only decreased the incidence of falls, but also saved our district time and money,” said Pamela Mix, human resources specialist.

As part of the district’s monthly incident and accident review process, it became evident that falls from faculty standing on tables, chairs and other unauthorized surfaces was a problem. The district’s safety and health committee decided the most effective way to decrease the risks of such falls was to provide stepladders in easy-to-access areas in every building in the district.

Previously, ladders were kept in custodial closets under lock and key, making them difficult for teachers to access. Placing stepladders throughout the departments saved employees time that would have been spent searching for a ladder.

To start the program, the safety and health committee worked with principals, head custodians and site staff to set criteria for which type of ladder to purchase. The criteria included things like maximum weight, means of storage, product material and number of steps or rungs. Based on the criteria, the committee gathered a variety of stepladders for trial.

After trying the ladders in a variety of ways and locations, the committee was able to make a selection and rolled out the stepladders to all schools within the district.

Program a success

Having the support of all school administrators and department heads was key to the success of this program. They helped communicate the expectations for use and storage of the stepladders, and reiterated the importance of safety.

“The feedback has been positive across the board. Our faculty is using the stepladders regularly and likes how easy they are to carry, use and store,” Mix said. “And since the implementation of the program, we have not seen one incident report of a fall from a table, chair or other unauthorized surface. We feel the program is a complete success.”

“As a bonus, this program encouraged others throughout the district to talk about safety in general. It got conversations going,” Mix said. “It showed that our employees are important and that we will provide the equipment they need to stay safe.”

This is not intended to serve as legal advice for individual fact-specific legal cases or as a legal basis for your employment practices.

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