A shocking one in six of all lost-time work injuries result from slips, trips and falls. Nearly 65 percent of these are same-level falls. With the goal of protecting the worker from harmful events such as dangerous falls, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed regulations that every employer must know and comply with.
The Features of OSHA’s Regulations:
Slips, trips and falls standards are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations, under the heading “Subpart D” or 29 CFR 1910.22.30. This area covers cause and prevention of slip, trip and fall injuries. Housekeeping, ladder safety, floor openings and stairways are included in Subpart D.
The wide spectrum of Subpart D covers terrain indoors and out. Universal to all companies, employees are exposed to slip, trip and fall hazards daily. Dock workers unload trucks on wet surfaces. Icy stairways are frequented by employees in winter. Compliance to this and most laws requires an employer to be aware of all potential hazards, even seasonal or geographic.
Are ladders being used by workers? Check ladders for missing safety feet, slippery steps and signs of wear or broken locking structures. Remove ladders with defects. Equip employees with proper portable ladders. Employers must invest time training on ladder safety and document this. Do a thorough walk-through to examine floors for slick or wet surfaces. If any employees are working in pooling water, provide a raised mat to stand on.
Avoiding worker injury and staying in compliance go hand in hand with prevention. It is a solution to nearly all OSHA issues. Prevent injury by reviewing housekeeping. Look for cluttered areas, electrical cords in aisles, carpeting or uneven walking surfaces that pose a tripping hazard. Clean up any areas necessary and document the process. In the event of an OSHA inspection, producing data showing regular corrections is handy.
Subpart D compliance requires close scrutiny of building and structural issues. Fixed stairs must be of uniform, non-slip tread. If the stairway is open on one side, there must be a handrail on the exposed region. Stairs and open platforms, with more than 4 risers, must always have both sides guarded by handrails. 29 CFR 1910.23 (d) gives explicit instructions on height of handrails, weight-bearing capacity of 200 pounds and construction of midpoint rails. Guard any floor openings or holes employees can fall into.
Like any law, absence of knowledge does not imply innocence. Employers who are unaware of building issues, improperly or unsafely used ladders and slick floors are nonetheless non-compliant. Strolling through the plant on a regular basis with Subpart D on your mind is a worthy pursuit. Catch items previously unnoticed, thus saving costly injury and/or penalties.
- Use 300 Logs to find previous hazards. Did you have any employees slip in a certain department? Investigate accordingly;
- Have employees wear non-slip shoes or boots to prevent slips, trips and falls. Tennis shoes often are too slippery for working conditions.
- Unguarded floor holes of greater than one inch and less than 1 foot and floor openings of greater than 1 foot carry penalties based on size. If you are the target of an OSHA inspection, these will usually be measured. Fines for larger openings are more severe.
Arbill representatives are happy to help you make sense of OSHA regulations and to keep your employees safe. We offer more than safety products. We also offer Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) training programs, and facility ID programs. To further keep your workplace safe, we offer a comprehensive line of on-line or CD based training that cover a wide variety of safety training. Visit our website for more details.
Subscribe here or come back on Friday for a discussion on the potential slips, trips and fall hazards and how to avoid them…thus not only keeping your employees safe everyday but increasing your bottom line at the same time.