Course 601 - Essentials of Occupational Safety and Health

1    2    3    4    5      Course Homepage   Final Exam    Contact Instructor   Website Homepage
Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Walking and Working Surfaces

Have a place for everything and put everything in its place :-)  Proper housekeeping is a routine.
If the facility housekeeping habits are poor, the result may well be employee injuries, ever increasing insurance costs, and regulatory citations.

Slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. They cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of death.

Click here for a checklist to test your compliance with OSHA’s walking and working surfaces standards for the general industry.

Good Housekeeping

It has often been said that safety and housekeeping go hand in hand. This is very true, especially when addressing the serious issue of slips, trips, and falls. If the facility housekeeping habits are poor, the result may well be employee injuries, ever increasing insurance costs, and regulatory citations. If an organization's facilities are noticeably clean and well organized, it is a good indication its overall safety program is effective as well. In addition to safety, disorderly work environments can negatively impact the morale of employees who must function in a job site that is dirty, hazardous, and poorly managed.

According to the National Safety Council, workers are injured from slips, trips, and falls more than any other occupational injury. These can often be avoided if proper housekeeping procedures are used. It is not uncommon for a worker to trip on a piece of equipment or tool that they themselves forgot to put away.

Good housekeeping includes picking up, wiping up, and cleaning up.

It includes the prompt removal of scrap and waste. It is reflected in the old adage of "having a place for everything and putting everything in its place." Sometimes housekeeping is delegated to janitorial services. However, like "safety" itself, housekeeping is everyone's responsibility.

 Proper housekeeping is a routine.
Have a place for everything and put everything in its place. Proper housekeeping is a routine.

Good Housekeeping (continued...)

Proper housekeeping is a routine. It is an ongoing procedure that is simply done as a part of each worker's daily performance. When each individual does his/her part to keep work areas clean, a successful housekeeping program will be the result.

Every workplace is subject to either good or bad housekeeping. Factories, warehouses, laboratories, kitchens, hospitals, and offices … the list is endless. In all of these diverse areas, good housekeeping can be achieved by establishing a simple three step program.

  1. Plan Ahead – know what needs to be done, who is going to do it, and what the work area should look like when they’re done.
  2. Assign Responsibilities – if necessary, a person should be specifically assigned to clean up (although personal responsibility for cleaning up after him/herself is preferred).
  3. Implement a Program – establish housekeeping as a part of the daily routine (an ongoing procedure).
Traction on outdoor surfaces can change drastically when subjected to environmental factors such as rain or sleet
Traction on outdoor surfaces can change drastically when subjected to environmental factors such as rain or sleet.

Wet or slippery surfaces

Slips and trips on walking surfaces are a significant portion of injuries reported by covered state agencies. The specific types of surfaces involved in these injuries vary considerably, but some of the more frequently reported are:

  • parking lots;
  • sidewalks (or lack of);
  • food preparation areas and shower stalls in residential dorms; and,
  • floors in general.

Traction on outdoor surfaces can change drastically when subjected to environmental factors such as rain or sleet or on indoor surfaces when moisture is tracked in by pedestrian traffic.

Some administrative controls that can be implemented outdoors include the following:

  • Keep areas, such as the parking lots and sidewalks, clean and in good repair condition.
  • If snow or ice are a factor, additional controls can be implemented to either remove the snow where feasible or, in the case of ice, to treat the surface with sand or other environmentally friendly material. If surfaces are sloped, an additional precaution may be used to temporarily suspend use of the area.
  • Use adhesive stripping material or anti-skid paint wherever possible.

Wet or Slippery Surfaces (continued...)

A wide variety of surfaces are available indoors. Although most provide some degree of slip resistance in their original state, there are some exceptions. Highly polished floors can be extremely slippery even when dry and definitely increases the potential for a slip when moisture is present. Other types of floors may not have the built-in hazard such as the decorative ones mentioned, but they present a hazard especially in the presence of moisture, liquid spills, or food. Some agencies have additional unique exposures in this area, such as those with food services departments and bathing facilities for residential care workers.

wet floor sign
A wet floor sign is a valuable tool to attract attention, but should not in and of itself be a sole control technique. It is also important that once the hazard is removed the sign is also removed.

Control measures that can be implemented indoors to prevent, or minimize as much as possible, injuries caused by wet surfaces include the following:

  • Anti-skid adhesive tape is an excellent and economically feasible fix to combat slips or trips.
  • During inclement weather conditions, moisture-absorbent mats should be placed in entrance areas. Caution: Improper mats can become tripping hazards.
  • Floor mats should have beveled edges, lie flat on the floor, and be made out of material or contain a backing that will not slide on the floor.
  • Have readily available and display wet floor signs. An additional caution: A wet floor sign is a valuable tool to attract attention, but should not in and of itself be a sole control technique. It is also important that once the hazard is removed the sign is also removed. Otherwise, they become commonplace and lose their intended effectiveness.
  • Have a policy or procedure implemented articulating the appropriate action to be taken when someone causes or comes across a food or liquid spill.
  • Proper area rugs or mats should be used in food preparation areas or bathing facilities. A more expensive, but effective, measure in these particular areas is chemical treatment of the floor surface, which increases the coefficient of friction when moisture is present.
  • Where wet processes are used, maintain adequate drainage, mats, and false floors wherever possible.

Obstacles in Walkways

Injuries can also result from trips caused by reasons other than slippery surfaces, namely inadvertent contact with obstacles or other types of material (debris) and/or equipment. For example, obstacles could include obstructions across hallways, material stacked or dumped in passageways, clutter, and the list can go on.

As mentioned earlier, good housekeeping in work and walking areas is still the most effective control measure in avoiding these types of hazards. This means having policies or procedures in place and allowing time for cleaning the area, especially where scrap material or waste is a by-product of the work operation. Keep aisles and corridors clean, clear, and in good repair to the maximum extent possible. This is especially true in office environments where there is a common tendency to store or stack material, especially boxes, in hallways and corridors. Not only is this an unsafe practice conducive to a tripping hazard, but also a source of fuel in the event of a fire.

Fall hazards are foreseeable.
Fall hazards are foreseeable.

What is a fall hazard?

A fall hazard is anything in the workplace that could cause an unintended loss of balance or bodily support and result in a fall. Fall hazards cause accidents such as the following:

  • A worker walking near an unprotected leading edge trips over a protruding board.
  • A worker slips while climbing an icy stairway.
  • A makeshift scaffold collapses under the weight of four workers and their equipment.
  • A worker carrying a sheet of plywood on a flat roof steps into a skylight opening.

Fall hazards are foreseeable. You can identify them and eliminate or control them before they cause injuries.

Identify Hazardous Work Areas

Determine if tasks could expose you or others to the following fall hazards:

  • Holes in walking/working surfaces that they could step into or fall through.
  • Elevated walking/working surfaces six feet or more above a lower level.
  • Skylights and smoke domes that workers could step into or fall through.
  • Wall openings such as those for windows or doors that workers could fall through.
  • Trenches and other excavations that workers could fall into.
  • Walking/working surfaces from which workers could fall onto dangerous equipment
  • Hoist areas where guardrails have been removed to receive materials.
  • Sides and edges of walking/working surfaces such as established floors, mezzanines, balconies, and walkways that are 6 feet or more above a lower level and not protected by guardrails at least 39 inches high.
  • Ramps and runways that are not protected by guardrails at least 39 inches high.
  • Leading edges - edges of floors, roofs, and decks - that change location as additional sections are added.
  • Wells, pits, or shafts not protected with guardrails, fences, barricades, or covers.

Fall hazards are foreseeable. You can identify them and eliminate or control them before they cause injuries.

Ways to prevent falls include covers, guardrails, handrails, perimeter safety cables, and personal fall-restraint systems.
Ways to prevent falls include covers, guardrails, handrails, perimeter safety cables, and personal fall-restraint systems.

Identify Fall Hazards that You Can Eliminate

Eliminating a fall hazard is the most effective fall-protection strategy. Ways to eliminate fall hazards:

  • Perform construction work on the ground before lifting or tilting it to an elevated position.
  • Install permanent stairs early in the project so that workers don't need to use ladders between floors.
  • Use tool extensions to perform work from the ground.
  • Identify fall hazards that you can't eliminate. If you can't eliminate fall hazards, you need to prevent falls or control them so that workers who may fall are not injured.
  • Ways to prevent falls include covers, guardrails, handrails, perimeter safety cables, and personal fall-restraint systems.
  • Ways to control falls include personal fall-arrest systems, positioning-device systems, and safety-net systems. Use these fall-protection systems only when you can't eliminate fall hazards or prevent falls from occurring.

Consider Other Factors that Could Increase the Risk of Falls

Will tasks expose workers to overhead power lines? Will they need to use scaffolds, ladders, or aerial lifts on unstable or uneven ground? Will they be working during hot, cold, or windy weather? Consider ergonomics. Will workers need to frequently lift, bend, or move in ways that put them off balance? Will they be working extended shifts that could contribute to fatigue?

Good work! You've completed Module 3 :-) Good luck on the quiz.

VIDEO

Instructions

Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. According to the text, slips, falls and trips cause ____________ of all accidental deaths.

2. According to the text, what does good housekeeping consist of in the workplace?

3. Good housekeeping procedures can be MOST accomplished by __________.

4. A fall hazard is anything in the workplace that could cause an unintended loss of balance or bodily support and result in a fall.

5. Which of the choices below are fall hazards?


Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.