Even if you aren’t around heavy machinery, there are hazards at every worksite. Something as simple as a sidewalk can become a dangerous place if employees are not careful. Because of that, OSHA has safety standards specific to walking and working surfaces.
According to OSHA, a walking-working surface is defined as any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works, or gains access to a work area or workplace location. That means that anything from a sidewalk or platform to a ladder or rope can be deemed a walking or working surface. Whether you are at multi-story heights or your feet never leave the ground, you need to be careful where you work.
Indoor worksites and outdoor worksites will have their own hazards, but some are applicable to both. One such standard is to make sure the area is clear. If someone hangs their jacket across a ladder’s rung or there are tools strewn across the ground, someone could slip, trip, and fall. Especially when you are working off the ground, you could be seriously injured by something as simple as clutter. In fact, slips, trips, and falls constitute about 15% of accidental deaths in the general work environment.
If you are working outside, make sure that hazards created by weather are taken care of just as you would any other hazard. Clear any ice or snow, check the stability of the surface, and make sure that it can bear the weight of the equipment you plan to move across it. Be aware of uneven or soft ground and watch out for any other natural hazards.
If you are working indoors, you need to be just as careful as if you were outside. If there are leaks or spills, make sure that the fluid is cleaned up so that no one slips. Make sure that any ladders or other such platforms are inspected before use. Any weak points on the equipment, such as loose boards on a platform or cracks in the metal of a ladder, can become a danger to anyone that uses that equipment.
Simply put, it is important that you watch your step and inspect your equipment and worksite. The extra minute or two of time could prevent countless days of lost work and thousands of dollars in medical bills. Don’t ignore a hazard just so that you can get the job done faster. For more information, check out our OSHA-Compliant Walking and Working Surfaces Training and DIY Kit.
Good luck and stay safe!