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Walking and Working 101 in 2017

  Fall 2017

Walking and Working 101 in 2017
By: James O’Dwyer, Master PEC Instructor & Regulatory Outreach Business Development Safety


Walking—the most hazardous and potentially fatal workplace activity we perform. While this may sound a bit ridiculous, slips, trips, and falls accounted for approximately 15% of all accidental deaths in General Industry, placing it second behind driving and motor vehicle operation (1). Walking is not something we can cease practicing in order to eliminate the risks associated with it, but there are ways to reduce the potential hazards before you or someone else gets hurt.

Published in February 2017, the ANSI (American National Standard Institute) Standard A1264.1 outlines “Safety Requirements for Workplace Walking / Working Surfaces and Their Access; Workplace, Floor, Wall and Roof Openings; Stairs and Guard Rail Systems.” The title alone is a mouthful, but the thorough nature of this new standard demands attention—especially when 818 fatal occurrences were related to slip, trip, and fall. Out of these 880 incidents, 660 were to a lower level, 138 were on the same level, and 82 were falls through a surface or existing opening (2). Although A1264.1 may be voluntary standard (3), it is a best practice and not exempt from enforcement if chosen under the General Duty Clause.

The A1264.1 update intends to raise the standard for safety requirements in industrial and workplace situations where individuals are prone to falling off of or being struck by objects from elevated surfaces. These working or walking surfaces include floor or wall openings, platforms, runways, ramps, fixed stairs, or roofs. Among others (4), a few interesting exemptions that are applicable include: self-propelled motorized mobile equipment, mobile ladder stands, mobile work platforms, scaffolds used in the construction, alteration, demolition and maintenance of buildings and structures and ladders and construction work areas (5).  Nevertheless, workers should still remain vigilant and exercise caution.

Applause is due, for it is far too rare that fall restraint gets recognition from the overshadowed fall arrest application principle. Along with the attention to utilizing fall restraint, the ANSI standard makes reference to the Hierarchy of Fall Protection including, passive fall protection through isolation of or separation from hazardous work practices and the complexities of handrails and stair treads.

Let’s consider one of the most common questions asked during the analysis of any workplace incident: what training was there? Now I know you may be thinking, “Are you kidding me, we have to train people how to walk now?” Because we keep falling from, in, or through surfaces and creating loss, the answer is yes!

When we are comfortable with routine activities or master certain skills, we tend to underestimate or downplay the hazards associated with them— this applies to walking and working on equipment and surfaces. We become complacent due to risk tolerance and exposure without consequence. You may be so accustomed to strutting across a rooftop that you overlook the potential trip hazards or fail to notice the extra give caused by rotted support, which increases your chances of injury. Enrolling your workers in a construction safety training course and conducting periodic safety meetings that include walking/ working surface precautions can help reduce risk caused by complacency. Creating a safety training program and meeting agendas can be a hassle, no matter the size of your operation. However, incorporating these courses and materials lowers the frequency of major and minor workplace incidents. This translates to workers returning home safe and your company saving money in insurance, payroll, and supplies. Rather than put any added strain on your resources, look into existing construction safety training programs—like PEC Safety’s Safe Construction. PEC Safety, the industry’s leading technology and safety company, offers this affordable standardized training curriculum in order to help contractors and their workers uphold the highest safety standards.

The PEC Safe Construction course includes all of the materials your in-house trainer would need to become certified and teach this course. Don’t have an in-house safety professional? PEC Safety’s network of 2500 nationwide authorized instructors makes it easy to find available Safe Construction courses near you. Contact PEC Safety today to request a syllabus for Safe Construction and learn how this course can help you mitigate some of the most common construction risks:

Sources: 1. USDOL, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 2. USDOL, BLS and State, Census of Occupational Fatal Injuries, April 21, 2016, table A-8, Fatal injuries by event or exposure and age, all United Sates, 2014. 3. ANSI A1264.1 Standard, 2017 opening statement and history. 4&5. This article doesn’t constitute the inclusive content of the ANSI A1264.1 2017 Standard nor does the author represent the ANSI organization. Refer to ANSI A1264.1 2017 Standard for application of it and horizontal related standards and regulations.

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