Walking-Working Surfaces: Preventing Falls. Start Safe and Stay Safe.
In order to Start Safe and Stay Safe in the areas where you walk and work, you should always be aware that a fall can cause serious injuries.Simple slips and trips as well as falls from elevated work surfaces can lead to injuries ranging from bumps and bruises to the more serious, and sometimes fatal, head, neck, and back injuries.
Here is what we will cover:
To fall means to descend freely by the force of gravity. When you fall you usually don’t have much control of things like the speed of your descent, the position of your body when you land, and the surface that will stop your fall.
Factors that can influence the severity of your injuries include:
In most falls, the landing position is the most critical determining factor.
Falls in the workplace are often caused by the hazards resulting from poor housekeeping or elevated surfaces.
OSHA regulations also cover many different types of elevated walking and working surfaces, such as ladders, stairs, and scaffolds. There are rules for guarding fall hazards, safe use of ladders, proper construction of stairs, and safe assembly and use of scaffolds.
There are many different types of elevated work surfaces and a variety of ways to stay safe when walking or working on an elevated surface.
If there are holes or openings in the floor or wall, OSHA has regulations about how these potential hazards must be protected by various types of guards. Some examples of proper guarding include railings, toeboards, and floor coverings. Sometimes an attendant may be required to monitor activities in the area.
The Four-Foot Rule
Protection for wall openings, open-sided floors, platforms, loading docks, and runways, is governed by the “Four Foot Rule.” According to the Four Foot Rule, if there is a potential that you could fall four feet or more, protection by the use of guards and rails is required on all open sides.
There are also guarding rules for areas around dangerous equipment.
If there is a chance that a person could fall and come into contact with dangerous equipment, protection is required around that equipment, regardless of the height of the working surface. Railings, toeboards, and other guarding methods are used to keep people from falling into these potentially hazardous areas.
Stairs are another fall hazard in the workplace. OSHA has regulations that apply to stairs as well. The main things you need to know is that the stairs must be free from hazards that could cause a fall and that they must have handrails that are sturdy and in the right place.
OSHA requirements also cover the construction of stairs, including guidelines that determine the rise and tread width of each step, the size of stairway platforms, and the required overhead clearance.
When talking about elevated work surfaces, we must talk about ladders. There are two general types of ladders: portable and fixed. Portable ladders include: stepladders, single ladders, and extension ladders.
Stepladders are self-supporting with a locking device and can be no longer than 20 feet. Single ladders are not self-supporting and can be no longer than 30 feet. Extension ladders are also not self-supporting, but are expandable in length up to 60 feet.
When inspecting a portable ladder you should:
Ladders that present a potential hazard should be discarded.
A fixed ladder is a ladder that is permanently attached to a structure, building, or piece of equipment.
In some cases, the safe use of a fixed ladder may require additional fall protection structures or devices, such as cages, platforms, or safety harnesses. If your job requires you to climb a fixed ladder, you may need specific training and you should definitely be familiar with the specific requirements found in the OSHA Regulations.
Scaffolds are a very popular and useful means of creating an elevated work surface.
Before working on a scaffold, you should be sure the footing and anchorage are secure and that the strength of the scaffold is adequate to hold at least four times the maximum intended load.
Before you work on or around a scaffold, here are some general things to inspect:
To Stay Safe you must make safety your number one priority. Here are some key ways that you can Stay Safe and prevent falls in the areas where you walk and work: