Walking and working surfaces are an integral part of all fall prevention policies as surfaces such as floors, stairs and ladders are associated with fall-related accidents. In 2003, 65% of reported fall injuries in Ontario were same-level slips and falls. The number speaks volumes when such incidents are preventable, even with as something simple as good housekeeping.
Walking and working surfaces become fall hazards by several factors, could be man-made or by natural causes. Below are several examples:
– Collapse of support structures (floorboards, ladder rungs, etc.)
– Unstable underfoot surfaces (mats or ladders)
– Floor openings, holes or depressions
– Slippery floors
– Unkempt power cables, extension cords and other conduits on the floor
– Projecting parts of furniture, equipment or machines
– Poorly maintained/ damaged ladders and scaffolds
– Seasonal conditions (snow, ice, rain or mud)
The Government has industry standards on the maintenance of walking-working surfaces in the workplace. The OSHA’s general requirements for walking and working surfaces apply to all permanent places of employment, except where only domestic, mining, or agricultural work is performed. For more information, visit the Ministry of Labour’s site on The Occupational Health and Safety Act.
– All workplaces must be kept clean, orderly and sanitary.
– Workroom floors should be clean and dry as much as possible
Aisles and Passageways
– Traffic areas should be free from any obstructions
– Properly mark permanent aisles and passageways
– These areas must be well-lit and sufficiently sized to accommodate mechanical equipment
Covers and Guardrails
– Install covers and/ or guardrails to protect personnel from hazards such as open pits, tanks, ditches, etc.
Floor Loading Protection
– The load rating limit must not be exceeded
– Properly mark ratings and make visible for everyone to see
Placing strategic controls in the workplace will reduce or even eliminate the incidence of slips and falls. Here are several tried and tested measures to use in making walking-working surfaces safe:
– Utilize non-slip materials especially around machinery where spills may occur such as on storage rooms, ramps, lunch rooms and aisles.
– Install drip pans where necessary
– Repair or replace worn or damaged ladder rungs or stair treads
– Properly mark steps, ramps and other elevated areas
– Require employees to wear appropriate footwear and safety gear
– For loading docks:
Mark edges with yellow warning lines
Keep stairs, ramps (especially wheelchair ramps) and walkways clear
Maintain parking lots
– Make sure that there are no turned up or worn patches in carpets
– Tape down cords and cables or keep them out of the way
– Instruct employees to keep drawers closed
– Apply non-slip coatings to surfaces with little friction such as washrooms