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Step Stools

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Prevention/Ergonomic Guidance for Stakeholders Regarding Use of Step Stools in Industrial Workplaces

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Step stool

In addition to legal requirements for worker instruction/training in the use of equipment and the maintenance of equipment, workplace parties should consider safe practices in the use of step stools, such as: the correct choice of step stool in specific circumstances, its weight capacity, and the environmental conditions in which the step stool is being used in the workplace.

Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention/ergonomic safe practices should be considered while:


  • Carry objects so as not to impair ability to climb/descend, maintain balance, and preserve field of view

Receiving/Placing/Removing Objects

Range of movement

  • Keep hands above knee level when reaching downward to grasp objects
  • Keep belt buckle (i.e., navel) within centre of stool when reaching sideways
  • Avoid leaning backward while moving object (i.e., size of object should not interfere with its movement across the stool)
  • Avoid rising up on toes when reaching up above to place object

Standing posture

  • Keep both feet on the stool

Characteristics of object

  • Lift object with one hand (less than 9 kg, male; 6 kg, female)
  • Lift object with two hands:
  Male lifting object lighter than: Female lifting object lighter than:
Below shoulder height 21 kg 12 kg
Above shoulder height 16 kg 8 kg


  • Keep belt buckle within centre of stool (i.e., not beyond base of stool) when reaching to side
  • Keep both feet on the stool
  • Avoid applying forceful or jerky pushing/pulling movements where there is the potential for an unexpected reaction

For further information on ladder safety, contact your health and safety association.

ISBN: 978-1-4435-5994-2 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-4435-5995-9 (HTML)