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Stay on Top of Safety Regulations for Slips, Trips and Falls

OSHA's walking-working surface safety regulations require certain safety practices; read the following tips to get started on meeting OSHA's expectations and reducing slips, trips and falls in the workplace

Tip #1: Organize Stray Items

OSHA Best Practices Guide

Disorganized workspaces can be difficult to navigate, and nothing presents a more literal obstacle to observing walkway safety regulations than clutter. A protruding box here, a discarded tool there — messy spaces provide many opportunities for slips, trips and falls.

The solution? Tidy up! OSHA safety regulations require that "all places of employment, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms shall be kept clean and orderly" (1910.22(a)(1)). Consider using a lean management organization system such as Kanban or 5S to maintain an organized workspace. Labeling the proper location for commonly used items is a big step toward ensuring a neat environment and reducing the risk of slip-, trip- and fall-related injuries.

Tip #2: Clean Thoroughly

OSHA's Walking-Working Surface Standard safety regulations also require that walkways be regularly and properly cleaned. An unattended spill, for example, greatly increases the likelihood of an employee slipping and sustaining an injury.

Ideal housekeeping and maintenance procedures vary greatly from one work environment to the other. In offices, clean walkways may be achieved by vacuuming carpeted hallways. Warehouses maintain concrete surfaces, labs sanitize walkways exposed to a number of potentially hazardous chemicals, and construction sites clear walkways of grime and debris collected on a daily basis. Whichever particular mess an environment is prone to, safety regulations require that it be routinely and thoroughly cleaned to reduce the risk of injury.

To ensure these important tasks don't slip through the cracks, define your facility's custodial procedures and look into professional janitorial services if necessary. Don't forget to use proper signage to indicate that an area has been recently cleaned to alert employees about potentially wet or slick surfaces.

Tip #3: Guard against Hazards

Organizing and cleaning a walkway are two important steps toward satisfying walking-working surface safety regulations, but even when these two steps have been performed, hazards may still exist. A thorough, walkway-focused facility hazard assessment will help identify areas that still pose a threat to the safety of employees.

Keep the following tips in mind as part of your facility's walkway hazard control program:

  • Mark permanent aisles and passageways to make the safest possible path obvious
  • Where possible, identify separate paths for pedestrian traffic and material handling equipment such as forklifts, dollies and carts
  • Provide covers over walkways susceptible to falling objects
  • Construct guardrails for raised walkways and walkways that are located in close proximity to dangerous equipment
  • Use mats or runners on potentially wet and slippery surfaces
  • Use proper labeling and signage to identify and alert personnel when a slip, trip or fall hazard has been identified
  • Encourage the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as footwear with good traction, and encourage its use with signage at the entry to a potentially hazardous walkway

Handling walkway safety regulations is an important and doable task. Keep everyone on their toes about slip, trip and fall hazards and avoid the hassle and pain those hazards can cause.

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