I am a licensed (expired) Worker Compensation Claims Adjuster. I spent the time, took the tests, and paid the fees to obtain my license several years ago. For a brief period of time I handled the worker compensation claims for a large school district. I even served as a member on the Texas Association of School Board's Worker Compensation Advisory Board.
So I'm sympathetic - and most supportive - of any efforts to reduce work place injuries. In fact, I even track them on my campus dashboard which is updated daily on my campus web-site.
We received an email from central administration this week informing us that in an effort to reduce worker comp claims, our district is providing step ladders to all the schools. The email sent to the principals stated:
"We will be sending to your campus a step ladder for each 100 students for use by your teachers. At the risk of being slightly absurd, please make sure your staff knows the proper way to use them."
I know everyone means well...but now I'm worried. Step ladders? Signs for wet spots on the floor would have been a better investment, I think. I particularly prefer the signs that "pop open" like little tents. They're soft in case you slip and fall on one.
But step ladders are mechanical devices. As a general practice, I try not to give my staff mechanical things to deal with...it just causes headaches. (Did I tell you about the teacher who removed DVDs from the player with a pair of needle nose plyers? Need I go on?) The email we received went on to suggest that the ladders might be good to assign to groups of 5 teachers at a time. I'm sorry, and I love my staff, but I have recurring nightmares of what 5 teachers might do with a ladder. Especially if left unsupervised.
According to industry safety reports, accidents involving ladders cause an estimated 300 deaths and 130,000 injuries requiring emergency medical attention each year.
Personally, from my experience, I'd place the purchase of ladders further down the priority list of safety purchases. Banning cutting boards, buying blunt tipped scissors, providing chairs without rollers, and replacing all steps/stairs with ramps would be my starting point. Ladders scare me. Almost as much as men with ties around shredders.
I don't want any of my staff off the ground for any reason. I encourage them to turn in a work request to hang anything higher than an arm's length in height.
A Principal's Diary of "It Could Happen":
Dr. Robinson experiments with a new way to keep kids focused on his lectures.
Benton and Rocker in another of their "Bet You Can't Top This" Contests
Taylor and Wright decide we need drapes in the foyer.
Mr. Pence decides he wants to pull more power into his room for computers.
Olin leaves behind evidence that he is still trying to find heat for his shop.
Jessie just needed an extra foot to reach the dead rat in Mrs. Miller's room.
The DAEP staff were tired of the bushes blocking their view out the windows.
Note To Self: Plan Teacher Inservice ASAP: "Ladders in the Classroom - Taking Safety to a New High"