Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm not really sure why these signs annoy me so much

There are lots of stairways at my workplace and they all have a sign "Please use stairs safely" installed. These signs annoy me and elicit silent sarcasm from my mind.

I know the educational facility I work for needs these signs to remind stair users the stairs serve the serious purpose of allowing users to walk from one level to another and that skylarking is not encouraged. The subtext is, of course, that anyone who does skylark and suffers an injury as a result will not be able to sue the educational facility because the educational facility has told them to use the stairs safely via the signs. (I guess the international students who are on campus to learn English would be able to sue, as comprehension of English signs regarding stairways may not have been covered in language classes at the time of their injury, if they were to have one. An injury that is.)

One of the questions my mind silently poses is: what constitutes safe usage?

I'm sure pushing, shoving, and merriment of any kind would be unsafe. But what about running up the stairs because you're feeling buoyant and full of energy (or late for a meeting)? Is the wearing of high heels and traversing the stairways safe usage? High heels can be unsafe on any surface, so surely they must be doubly unsafe on stairways. Is the carrying of items in both hands unsafe? Surely one needs one hand free to grasp the side rail? Should stairway users with long hair ensure it is tied back so gusts of wind cannot blow hair across the stair user's face, taking away their ability to see any possible obstacles, or distracting them from safe foot placement.

Hmmmm. The perils of stair usage are many. I think a little sign on each stairway is insufficient and that something more in keeping with the risks involved should be employed. A safe stair monitor perhaps? Of course there'd have to be one at the top and bottom of every stairway, so that would involve about 40 stair monitors. Perhaps I should suggest this as an employment creation program that also takes OH&S and stair usage seriously.


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