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Safety on Walking/Working Surfaces - May 2017
Slips, trips and falls account for many accidents and
accidental deaths on the worksite. These accidents are especially prevalent in
the construction and contracting industry because as the site changes, safety
hazards will evolve and change as well. Paying close attention to the areas
where we walk and work to eliminate the potential for slips, trips or falls is
essential to the success of our business.
On the job, there can be many different types of slip, trip
and fall hazards. For instance, material debris on the ground is just as
hazardous as cords or hoses lying in walking areas. Also, materials stored
improperly present spill hazards and can cause slips. The point is that there
are many different types of hazards that can be in our work areas. Being aware of
these hazards and addressing them is the first step to avoiding slip, trip and
fall injuries at the worksite.
What other types of situations do we need to look out for?
Here is a brief list of some of the common hazards seen frequently in working
lying on the ground or other walking areas
oil, lubricants or other liquids spilled on the ground or on elevated areas at
(pallets, boxes, etc.) stored in a walking area
stored near ladders or in machine traffic areas
lighting in walking or working areas
marked pedestrian or machine traffic only paths
Cords and Hoses
One of the biggest trip and electrical hazards comes from
cords and hoses, and both are commonly used in working areas. First, cords and
hoses should not be uncontrolled in walking areas because they pose trip
hazards. Secondly, cords and hoses need to be monitored so they don’t become
damaged. Cords that have broken insulation pose electrical shock and fire
Use extra caution when working with extension cords.
Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. Temporary means only
using the cord when you need additional power for a short period of time, such
as when operating a power tool. Extension cords may not be used as a substitute
for permanent wiring. Extension cords that are wrapped around poles or other
equipment are not being used on a temporary basis and are likely being used as
a substitute for permanent wiring. This use creates both trip and electrical
hazards. Look in your work area and see where extension cords are in use.
Report any misuse to your supervisor immediately to prevent trip, fall and
electrical hazards at the site.
Material Storage in Working Areas
Look around your work area and consider how materials are
stored. Look specifically at pallets, carts, trays and other material handling
or material holding equipment to see if the way it is stored creates a
Pallets should not be stored on end because they are not
stable in that position. They can easily tip over onto workers or equipment.
Storing boxed materials properly will prevent slips, trips and falls. Always
think about where material is stored and how it may create a trip hazard or
ignite because of what it is stored by.
Stacking materials in work areas is unavoidable, but can
also create hazards if materials are not stacked properly. It is important to
not stack boxes of materials too high to avoid tip-over hazards. Also, heavier
boxes should not be placed on top of lighter boxes for the same reason—even for
short periods of time. Whatever materials are needed at your site, stacking
them properly will help prevent tip or trip hazards.
Passageways and Other High-traffic Areas
Aisles and passageways are used by both workers and
motorized vehicles. Combining pedestrians with motorized vehicles can be
dangerous when safety procedures are not followed. When you are walking
anywhere in the workplace, be mindful of where you are walking and what traffic
is in the area.
Keeping Your Area Free From Hazards
Some of the most serious safety hazards found in walking or
working areas are due to poor housekeeping. As you look at your work area, keep
the following issues in mind.
work areas so dust and debris do not accumulate and create a trip or slip
- Clean up
spilled materials immediately.
- Don’t let
trash overflow in work areas.
store materials in passageways.
- Always be
mindful of powered equipment operations. As a pedestrian, watch for
traffic. As an operator, always be aware
of workers and civilians in the area.
store materials near ladders or machinery.
Walking and working surfaces can cause many different and
serious injuries when safety precautions are not followed. The more we pay
attention to the hazards in our work area, the better chance we have at
preventing injuries and keeping ourselves safe and healthy on the job.