With falls being the second highest cause for work-related injuries, it is vital for business owners to create a safe environment for their employees as much as possible. A third of these falls occur when workers run into misplaced or missing floor and wall covers.
An opening measuring less than 12 inches but more than 1 inch in its least dimension, in any floor, platform, pavement, or yard, through which materials but not persons may fall; such as a belt hole, pipe opening or slot opening.
An opening measuring 12 inches or more in its least dimension, in any floor, platform, pavement or yard through which persons may fall, such as a hatchway, stair or ladder opening, pit or large manhole. Floor openings occupied by elevators, dumb waiters, conveyors, machinery, or containers are excluded from this standard.
An opening less than 30 inches but more than 1 inch high, of unrestricted width, in any wall or partition, such as a ventilation hole or drainage scupper.
An opening at least 30 inches high and 18 inches wide, in any wall or partition, through which persons may fall, such as a yard-arm doorway or chute opening.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) imposes certain requirements to employers when addressing fall hazards associated with holes and skylights and these are:
1. Covers must be capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the weight of
employees, equipment and materials that may be imposed on the cover(s) at any time;
2. Covers be secured when installed to prevent accidental displacement,
3. Covers must be color-coded or properly marked with “Hole” or “Cover” as a warning
How to Avoid Hazards from Holes
1. Below are standard guidelines that should be part of an organization’s fall protection
policy, particularly on hole covers:
When workers run the risk of a fall of 6 feet or more, use at least one of the following:
Safety Net systems
Personal Fall Arrest systems
2. Cover or guard floor holes as soon as they are created during new construction.
3. For existing structures, survey the site before working and continually audit as work continues. Guard or cover any openings or holes immediately.
4. All floor hole covers must effectively support twice the weight of employees, equipment
Image credit: http://www.vanguardgroup.co.nz/media//catalog/product/cache/cat_resized/trench-hole-covers_1.jpg