Time to Get a Ladder
CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 DUSTIN VANCE
111th Engineer Brigade
West Virginia Army National Guard
Eleanor, West Virginia
As a young staff sergeant, I considered myself a high-speed Soldier. I always completed assigned tasks on time and to standard, I stayed current on NCOES and all required training, and I took care of things at my level. I was taught that as an NCO, when you see something that needs to be done, you do it.
So as a good NCO wanting to take care of my area, I noticed the batteries had gone dead in the digital clock on the office wall. Seeing this as something easy to complete, I quickly grabbed my wheeled desk chair and rolled it to the wall underneath the clock. I then grabbed some fresh batteries, stood on the chair to replace the dead pair and climbed down. I thought that was the end of it, but I was wrong.
About 30 minutes later, an email from the safety officer was sent to the entire battalion explaining the hazards of using improper items as a ladder. Attached was a picture of me, standing on my wheeled chair, reaching up for the clock. I wasn’t aware someone had been watching me. I felt humiliated. This high-speed Soldier was now being used as an example for what not to do. It wasn’t long afterward before the first sergeant paid me a visit to have a talk.
As a NCO, I knew better. I understood the hazards posed by standing on a chair. Unfortunately, I was so set on making things happen and doing them quickly that I found myself cutting corners. Rather than taking time to get a ladder from the maintenance room and having a spotter, I chose to put myself in a risky situation.
As innocent as my mistake may seem, falls are one of the leading causes of serious injury or death in the United States. I was lucky. Always use the proper equipment for the job to ensure you complete the task safely. Take it from me, you don’t want to end up being an example of what not to do.
For more information on preventing workplace injuries, visit the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center’s workplace safety page at https://safety.army.mil/ON-DUTY/Workplace.