Floor holes aren't just holes in the floor. This is one area where many workers forget to take the necessary safety measures to protect themselves and their co-workers, or at minimum throw some caution tape up and call it good.
Floor holes can be found inside of buildings, in shops or warehouses, on working platforms, on roofs and in outdoor working environments.
OSHA defines a floor hole as a gap or open space in a floor, roof, horizontal walking-working surface, or similar surface that is at least 2 inches (5 cm) in its least dimension.
- Roof drains
- Concrete penetrations for piping and ducts
- Unfinished stairways or missing steps
- Pier drilled holes
Examples of Floor Holes:
- Chute floors
- Mechanic pits
- Holes created during construction
- Rotting floors that could give way
- Working platforms for silos, tanks, etc.
Floor holes can be guarded or protected by guardrails, covers, and other conventional fall protection methods.
- Walking and working areas and rooftops should be inspected for potential floor holes, including skylights.
- Roof drains and other penetrations should be covered or protected to avoid trip hazards.
- Guardrails used around floor holes must meet specific construction guidelines so as to prevent falls to lower levels and erected on all unprotected sides or edges.
- Body belts are prohibited and may not be used as part of a fall protection system.
When used to protect employees, hole covers must be able to support 2x the weight of the employees, equipment, and their materials.
Covers need to be color coded or marked with the word "Hole" or "Cover".
- Hatchways and chute floors are also considered floor holes and must have protection.
- A hinged door may be used to prevent accidents involving hatches and chutes that may be located on industrial floors or roofs.
- Removable railings should stay in place, even when the opening is not in use.
- When materials are going into a floor chute, protection must be provided to prevent falls through the opening.
Never assume everyone will see the hole and step around it, or think that caution tape is enough. A slip or trip near the hole can result in a serious injury or worse. Proper covers, guardrails and signage must be utilized on and near floor hole hazards.
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