Don't get tripped up by OSHA's walking-working surfaces standard

Date Posted: 05/08/2019
Trip Hazard

OSHA's Walking-working surfaces standard, 29 CFR 1910.22, addresses workplace hazards that cause slip, trip, and falls. The standard focuses on proactive safety management — meaning that OSHA expects employers to find and fix workplace hazards BEFORE they become an issue. OSHA says exposure to these types of hazards pose a "significant risk" of death or serious harm to workers.

The requirements under Subpart D, "Walking-Working Surfaces," provide employers with the flexibility to decide which fall protection method or system works best for the work operation. OSHA says that these multiple options, along with required inspections and training, will help employers prevent and eliminate walking-working surface hazards.

What is a walking-working surface?

They are surfaces like floors, aisles, stairs, ladders, roofs, platforms, dockboards, and more. When you identify walking-working surface hazards, they must be eliminated with proactive measures such as use of fall protection. Fall protection includes using: covers, designated areas, guardrails, handrails, personal fall protection systems, ladder safety systems, and safety nets.

The standard requires employers to conduct regular inspections to identify and mitigate slips, trips and fall hazards. Things to keep in mind while performing these inspections include:

  • Passageways, storerooms, service rooms, and walking-working surfaces must be kept clean, orderly, and sanitary.
  • Walking-working surfaces must have a proper load rating to safely support loads applied to it.
  • If a corrective action or repair cannot be made immediately, the hazard must be guarded to prevent employees from using the walking-working surface.
  • False floors, platforms, and mats must be provided when wet processes are used.
  • Workroom floors must be kept clean and dry.
  • Hazardous conditions on walking-working surfaces must be corrected or repaired before an employee can use it again.
  • Employers must provide safe access and egress to and from walking-working surfaces.
  • Protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice are not allowed on walking-working surfaces.
  • Only a qualified person can repair structural integrity issues on a walking-working surface.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Many OSHA standards require your employer to provide training to workers, including this standard. Training should occur initially at new hire orientation and thereafter on an ongoing basis. Walking-working surfaces training topics include: hazard identification, fall protection use, ladder safety, scaffold-user safety, and stairway requirements.

In addition to your site-specific training, you can find classroom training materials in the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE. The training feature offers online training courses in English and Spanish to enhance or jump start your site-specific training. You can also use the Workplace Inspections in SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE to customize your walking-working surface inspections.

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