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Toolbox Talk: Preventing Falls through Holes

By October 5, 2020 No Comments

It has to be a terrible feeling. One moment your feet are on what seems to be a solid surface, the next moment they’re in mid-air as you begin a fall to a level far below.

That’s how a floor opening fall typically happens. A worker at a construction site falls through an opening to a surface below or into industrial machinery on a lower level. Openings in floors and roofs are often part of the work environment during construction, renovation and demolition. They must be guarded and securely covered so no one can accidentally step in.

Definition and requirements

A hole is defined as a gap or void two inches or more in its least dimension, in a floor, roof, or other surface.

  • Conduits, trenches, and manhole covers and their supports, when located in roadways, and vehicular aisles must be designed to carry a truck rear axle load of at least two times the maximum intended load
  • Hole covers must be capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time

 

Securing and Labeling

  • All covers must be secured when installed to prevent accidental displacement by wind, equipment, or employees
  • All temporary covers must be color coded or they must be marked with the word “hole” or “cover” to provide warning of the hazard

Barriers

  • Barriers must be of such construction and mounting that, when in place at the opening, the barrier is capable of withstanding a load of at least two hundred pounds applied in any direction (except upward), with a minimum of deflection at any point on the top rail or corresponding member
  • Screens must be of such construction and mounting that they are capable of withstanding a load of at least two hundred pounds applied horizontally at any point on the near side of the screen
    • They may be of solid construction of either grill work with openings not more than eight inches long, or of slat work with openings not more than four inches wide with length unrestricted

Remember, safety is built one step at a time!