SPOT THE SAFETY VIOLATION: Creativity Can Be Dangerous


Although you may want workers to be innovative, some creative solutions to work problems are downright dangerous. Where did these workers go wrong?


In many cases, you should applaud workers who come up with creative solutions to problems in the workplace. But thinking outside the box isn’t always a good thing.

Case in point: Stringing together two ladders as a makeshift scaffold is a terrible and very dangerous idea. After all, this platform is already sagging in the middle and no one is even on it! In fact, falling from these rigged ladders is practically guaranteed. (Learn about using fall protection plans to keep your workers from falling from heights.)

There are a few lessons to take away from this picture.

First, employers have a duty to ensure workers have the equipment they need to do their jobs safely. For example, if the workers responsible for this set-up had a real scaffold or elevated platform available to them, then they wouldn’t have had a need to jury-rig their own equipment.

Second, employers must make sure that workers know how to use their equipment properly.

Ladders have many valuable uses in the workplace—but as a makeshift scaffold isn’t one of them. (To ensure that the ladders in your workplace are safe to use, download this ladder inspection form that workers can use to inspect ladders before using them.)

Lastly, workers should be trained to go to their supervisors if they need equipment they don’t have or want to try something new and different to address a particular challenge. The supervisor can then either get the necessary equipment or assess the safety risks of the workers’ proposal.

Go to SafetySmart S.A.F.E. System to buy a S.A.F.E. System on slips, trips and falls or ladder safety. Each system includes:

  • A supervisor’s safety meeting outline
  • Worker safety meeting cards with “scratch-off” quizzes
  • Table tents
  • Safety posters.

And visit for a safety talk on basic scaffold safety and an example of what can happen when a scaffold collapses. Not a Safety Smart member? Sign up for a free 14-day trial.