Unprotected Openings — A Preventable Hazard.
Workers face many safety hazards on the job. One of those hazards is falling through dangerous unprotected openings on roofs or floors. In this incident, a large, unprotected opening was found on the property of an industrial company. The company was located across the street from several apartment buildings where small children often played outdoors. To make the unprotected opening hazard even more dangerous, the hole had several inches of water in the bottom. The opening, which was left uncovered for days, should have been covered immediately and secured until work could resume on the project.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO OUR WORK?
OSHA requires that every unprotected opening into which a worker can accidentally fall into be guarded (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover). Cover or guard floor holes as soon as they are created during construction. When the cover is not in place, the floor hole shall be constantly attended by someone or shall be protected by a removable standard railing.
— Construct all floor hole covers so they will effectively support two times the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time.
— Secure coverings for floor and roof openings to prevent accidental removal or displacement.
— The provision of administrative controls, such as providing an attendant, should not be used in lieu of proper engineering controls such as railings, covers or other protective methods. Attendance at a floor opening is only intended to provide an oral warning by the attendant to stay a safe distance (preferably) from the opening until a barrier or cover had been placed in position to adequately secure the opening from fall through hazards.
— Covers shall be secured in place to prevent accidental removal or displacement, and shall bear signage stating: “Dangerous Opening—Do Not Remove.”
— If you come across a floor or roof with an unprotected opening, alert your supervisor so the opening can be safely protected as soon as possible.
Protecting workers and pedestrians from falling into unprotected openings is a totally preventable hazard.