Maintaining safe walkways is one of the most basic ways employers are required to protect worker safety. Industrial settings have dangers that can make even the simple act of walking dangerous. In fact, OSHA’s research shows that falling from heights is one of the most common fatal dangers faced by workers in industrial settings. Two of the top three citations given by OSHA officials include hazards that require safe walking areas and scaffolding.
General Walkway Requirements
OSHA has a general requirement that “all places of employment, passageways, storerooms, service rooms, and walking-working surfaces are kept in a clean, orderly, and sanitary condition.” Floors and walkways must be kept clean and as dry as possible, even in wet conditions. If a walkway is in a consistently wet area, there must be proper drainage. Additionally, wet workplaces should have dry standing places and mats for workers.
Sharp objects, protruding objects, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice must be cleared from walkways before workers use them. Eliminating these hazards will decrease slip and fall accidents and may prevent any falls from being injury-causing events.
Other walkway requirements include the following:
Employers must ensure that walkways can handle the weight of equipment or personnel using them.
Access and Egress
Employers must provide safe walking-working surfaces and ensure that every employee uses them. Additionally, employees must be able to use walkways to leave a job site easily as needed.
Inspection, Maintenance, and Repair
Walking-working surfaces must be regularly inspected for safety. Any hazardous walkways found by workers or employees must be fixed immediately. While hazards are pending repair, employers are required to prevent workers from using the walking-working surface. Finally, the repair must be accomplished by a qualified individual who can guarantee its usability.
OSHA Scaffolding Requirements
Fall protection and scaffolding standards are the first and third most common violations OSHA cited in 2018. First, OSHA requires that all scaffolds be designed by a person who is qualified to design a safe structure. Each working level of a scaffold must be fully planked or decked. No more than 1 inch of space can be present between each scaffold unit unless the employer can show that more space was needed. Each scaffold walkway should be at least 18 inches wide.
Scaffolds should be built on a strong foundation. When supporting any weight, footings must be level, sound, and rigid so they do not move when the scaffold is in use. Employers must provide fall protection if a scaffold is more than 10 feet above a lower level. If a supported or suspension scaffold is being used, additional requirements are provided by OSHA. These requirements are available to be read here.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a scaffold or walkway, recovery is possible! Contact the industrial accident attorneys at Arnold & Itkin today at (888) 493-1629. Consultation is free and our lawyers have won billions for clients.