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General Requirement for Walking – Working Surfaces at Height

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By
Sreenivasa Hassan Jayaram
Manager-Projects, Jones Lang LaSalle India, Bangalore, Karnataka

General Requirements for Walking/Working Surfaces
1. Housekeeping –
Facilities shall be maintained free of debris, clutter and moisturein order to eliminate slip, trip and fall hazards. Where cleaning or other temporary situations cause floors to be wet, signs or other warning devices shall be used to warn of the slip hazard.

2. Wet Process Locations – Where wet processes are used; drainage, false floors, platforms, mats etc. shall be used to provide for dry work surfaces.

3. Aisles and Passageways – Where mechanical handling equipment is used, sufficient safe clearances shall be allowed in aisles, at loading docks, through doorways and wherever turns or passage must be made. Aisles and passageways shall be kept clear and in good repair, with no obstructions across or in aisles that could create a hazard.

4. Covers and Guardrails – Covers and/or guardrails shall be provided to protect personnel from the hazards of open pits, tanks, vats, ditches, etc.

5. Floor Loading Protection – Walking and working surfaces shall have the strength and structural integrity to support personnel and equipment. Loads greater than approved will not be permitted on any floor, roof or building. For structurally supported surfaces employees must be made aware of intended load limits where it isn’t obvious. This rule is to prevent floor overloading failures and pertains to substructures within a facility where personnel and equipment are expected to be present for example; mezzanines, interstitial areas or offices with a roof structure used for storage.

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General Requirements for Guarding Floor, Wall Openings and Holes
1. Stairway Floor Openings – Stairway floor openings shall be guarded by a standard railing on all exposed sides except for the entrance to the stairway. Where doors or gates open directly on a stairway a platform shall be provided and the swing of the door shall not reduce the effective width to less than 20 inches (50cm).

2. Ladder way Floor Opening or Platform – Every ladder way floor opening or platform shall be guarded by a standard railing with standard toe board on all exposed sides (except at entrance to opening), with the passage through the railing protected either with a swing gate or so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the opening.

3. Fixed Ladder Passage Ways – For ladders that extend to another working surface or platform the passageways through the railing of all ladder floor openings and platforms shall be protected by a swinging gate or offset so that a person cannot walk directly into the opening. This applies to floor openings in runways and catwalks.

4. Pit, Trapdoor, Manhole Floor Opening – Shall be guarded by a floor opening cover of standard strength and construction for that floor opening. While the cover is not in place, the opening shall be constantly attended by someone or shall be protected on all exposed sides by removable standard railings.

5. Floor Opening – Floor opening is an opening measuring 12 inches (30cm) or more in its least dimension, in any floor, platform, pavement, or yard through which persons may fall; such as a hatchway, stair or ladder opening, pit, or large manhole. Floor opening shall be guarded by either:
i. A standard railing with standard toeboard on all exposed sides, or

ii. A floor opening cover of standard strength and construction. While the cover is not in place, the floor opening shall be constantly attended by someone or shall be protected by a removable standard railing.

6. Floor Hole – A floor hole is an opening measuring less than 12 inches (30cm) but more than 1 inch (2.5cm) in its least dimension, in any floor, platform, pavement, or yard, through which materials but not persons may fall; such as a belt hole, pipe opening, or slot opening shall be protected by a cover that leaves no openings more than 1 inch (2.5cm) wide. The cover shall be securely held in place to prevent tools or materials from falling through. Examples include: drains, conduit floor panels, floor valve access, pop-outs.

7. Wall Openings – Every wall, partition or chute wall opening which is at least 30 inches (72cm) high and 18 inches (46cm) wide through which persons may fall 4 feet (1.2m) or more shall be guarded by one of the following: Rail, roller type door, picket fence, half door, or equivalent barrier. Where there is exposure below to falling materials, a removable toe board or the equivalent shall also be provided. When the opening is not in use for handling materials, the guard shall be kept in position regardless of a door on the opening. In addition, a grab handle of standard strength and mounting shall be provided on each side of the opening with its center approximately 4 feet (1.2m) above floor level.

i. Wall opening barriers and screens shall be capable of withstanding loads of at least 200 pounds (90kg) applied in any direction at any point.

ii. Wall opening grab handles shall be no less than 12 inches (30.cm) in length and will have 3 inches (8cm) of clearance from the side framing of the wall opening and shall be capable of withstanding load of at least 200 pounds (90kg) applied in any direction at any point of the handle.

8. Open-Sided Floors, Platforms and Runways- Every open-sided floor or platform 4 feet (1.2m) or more above an adjacent floor or ground level shall be guarded by a standard railing on all open sides except where there is entrance to a ramp, stairway or fixed ladder. The railing shall be provided with a toe board whenever, beneath the open sides:
i. A person can pass,
ii. There is moving machinery, or
iii. There is equipment with which falling materials could create a hazard

9. Working Above Dangerous Equipment – Regardless of the working height, open sided floors, walkways, platforms or runways above dangerous equipment shall be guarded with standard railing and toe board.

10. Stairway Railing and Guards – Every flight of stairs having four or more risers shall be equipped with standard stair railings. A stair railing shall be of construction similar to a standard railing, but the vertical height shall be between 30-34 inches (76-86cm) from the upper surface of top rail to the surface of tread in line with face of riser at the forward edge of tread.

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i. Handrail brackets shall have 3 inches (8cm) of clearance between handrail and wall or any projection.

ii. Handrails shall be capable of withstanding a load of at least 200 pounds (90kg) applied in any direction at any point on the rail.

Stairway Width Handrail Requirement

Stairway Width Handrail Requirement
< 44 inches (1m) wide At least one handrail
< 44 inches (1m) wide open on both sides One handrail on each side
> 44 inches (1m) wide but < 88 inches (2.2m) wide One handrail on each side
>88 inches (2.2m) wide One handrail on each enclosed side and one intermediate rail

Roofs
1. Roof General Safety Requirements – Sites must have a system to ensure that fall protection or prevention is in place for existing buildings with unprotected edges. This system must include provisions for accessing work areas near unprotected edges, controlling access to the roofs, training of affected employees, and validating effectiveness of engineering and/or administrative controls being used. For low-sloped (slopes 4:12) roofs 4 feet (1.2m) and greater that are accessed they shall be protected with either a parapet or a standard guardrail having a height of 42 inches (1m) from the upper surface of the top rail to the walking/working surface of the roof.Work that does not meet the definition of predictable and regular requires another effective fall protection solution considering the hierarchy of controls. Weather conditions shall be considered while assessing work on roofs.

2. Roof Openings – All roof openings shall be protected to ensure a person cannot fall through them.

2.1 Roof Access Hatches – Every hatchway and chute opening shall be guarded by one of
the following;
i. A hinged cover of standard strength and construction equipped with standard railings or permanently attached so as to leave only one exposed side. When the opening is not in use, the cover shall be closed or the exposed side shall be guarded at both top and intermediate positions by removable standard railings, or
i. Removable railing with toe board on not more than two sides of the opening and fixed standard railing with toe boards on the other sides. Removable railings shall be kept in place when not in use.

ii. Where operating conditions necessitate the feeding of material into any hatchway or chute opening, protection shall be provided to prevent a person from falling through the opening.

2.2 Skylight Floor Opening/Translucent Roof Panels – Skylights or translucent roof panelsshall be guarded by a standard skylight screen or a fixed standard railing on all exposed sides.

i. Skylight screens shall be of such construction and mounting that they are capable of withstanding a load of at least 200 pounds (90kg) applied perpendicularly at any one area on the screen.

ii. They shall also be of such construction and mounting that, under ordinary loads or impacts, they will not deflect downward sufficiently to break the glass below them.

iii. The construction shall be of grillwork with openings no more than 4 inches (10cm) long or of slatwork with openings not more than 2 inches (5cm) wide with length unrestricted.

Reference and Acknowledgement
[1] Fall Protection Program by OSHA guidelines http://www.oshatrain.org
[2] Working At Height Guidelines, Version II, 21st September 2011 http://www.mic.ul.ie/adminservices/policies

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We at engineeringcivil.com are thankful to Sir Sreenivasa Hassan Jayaram for submitting this paper to us.

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