Slips, trips and falls. Who would think they cause 15 percent of on-the-job deaths? Hear about prevention and OSHA’s proposed new walking-working surfaces rule.
Good footwear, guardrails and housekeeping are just a few of the tips Dan Clark offers to avoid workers’ slips, trips and falls.
Also featured are quotes from OSHA head Dr. David Michaels on the long-delayed walking-working surfaces rule. Dan wonders why there is a fall protection requirement of four feet in General Industry, but six feet in Construction.
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Dan Clark: A new rule for slips, trips and falls? OSHA has been cooking one up for … 25 years! But, it’s almost ready.
Hey there, I’m Dan Clark with The Safety Brief, putting a headlock on health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, a service of Creative Safety Supply.
Yep, OSHA’s been toiling away on a new walking-working surfaces rule for about two and a half decades to address slips, trips and falls. It was supposed to be revealed in August, 2015. Now they say it will be out by year’s end or early 2016.
And these hazards can’t be overlooked in the workplace. Slips, trips and falls cause 15 percent of workplace fatalities.
What does OSHA’s head honcho, Dr. David Michaels, expect in the new rule?
Dr. David Michaels: We’ve made our rules consistent across construction jobs, maritime jobs and industry jobs.
Dr. Michaels: There are some differences.
Dan: Go on.
Dr. Michaels: In this rule, we have certain requirements around protection for workers in General Industry at four feet. Where in construction, we require that same protection at six feet.
Dan: Yes, the proposed rule keeps this weird incongruity. If a person is working in General Industry, they will need fall protection if at four feet above the level below. For Construction, there’s a fall protection trigger of …
Dr. Michaels: Six feet.
Dan: Six feet.
I was hoping OSHA would realize that Construction workers get banged up in a fall from height just as easily as General Industry workers. I don’t understand how OSHA can make a distinction, but I’m not in charge.
While we wait for the new walking-working surfaces rule, let’s not ignore the old one. Slips, trips and falls can be prevented with these tips.
— Uneven surfaces. Make them obvious with signs or bright floor markings.
— Housekeeping. Mop wet areas and clean up spills.
— Post “wet floor” signs or use cones.
— Have plans for clearing snow and ice in the winter.
— Have organized storage areas so clutter doesn’t make somebody fall on their can.
— Add traction tape to slippery floors and stairs.
— Secure floor mats and carpet so they don’t curl at the edges.
— Put up railings next to stairs or guardrails next to edges.
— Make sure lighting is bright enough to illuminate these hazards.
Try to control human factors:
— Require workers in slick areas to wear footwear with nonstick tread.
— Reduce fatigue. Make sure people on their feet for long periods of time take breaks. Anti-fatigue mats can also help prevent tired muscles.
That’s all for this episode, Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls. Join me again for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s always-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10 percent off your entire order at creativesafetysupply.com with coupon code BIG10.
Image of worker with box by NIOSH / CDC; Dr. David Michaels image 2010 by U.S. Dept. of Labor / OSHA; caricatures of tripping and falling workers © ℗ 2014 Creative Safety Supply, LLC, 7737 SW Cirrus Dr., Beaverton, Oregon 97008. All Rights Reserved. Warehouse image by PEO ACWA.