Today at Berkeley Lab nameplate Berkeley Lab
Thursday, April 7, 2005


Berkeley Lab had 3 injuries related to step stools over the past few years of which two of those injuries required medical treatment.   Characteristics of a safe step stool include:

    • Steps deep enough to fit the length of your feet.
    • A non-skid surface on each step.
    • A base that is wider than the top to prevent tipping.
    • Sturdy legs fitted with rubber tips.
    • The edge of each step marked with a contrasting color.

Some step stools and step ladders are designed with side "hand" rails which extend above the last step and around to the front.   This type may be the appropriate device to use in many work areas.   A handrail allows you to steady yourself as you climb and descend the stairs.   It can also assist you in finding the correct placement of your feet.  

Without the handrail you can easily lose your balance reaching for objects, or stepping down.  

Step stools often depend on casters, springs and friction devices to function properly.   If any of these are defective or missing they need to be replaced and the step stool should be tagged "DO NOT USE".


  • Be in a hurry: Use a safe step stool.
  • Do not wear high-heels when climbing.
  • Stand on a chair.
  • Step down without looking for the step.
  • Use a step stool without something solid to hold on to.
  • Over reach


  • Take the time to find the right equipment.   Make sure it is the correct height for the task. Order a step stool with a handrail if possible.
  • Take your time and make sure the step stool is properly placed on a firm. level and stable surface.
  • Climb facing the steps. Align the lower step opening so your foot will go in easily on the way up and down.
  • Look for the lower step when stepping down.


  • You can prevent these injuries from happening to you.   Contact EH&S if you have any questions.


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