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Revised OSHA Walkway Requirements on the Horizon
- New Tests Measure Floor Traction
- OSHA Floor Audits Require a 'Qualified Person'
- Certified Distributors Can Provide Walkway Audits
BY Ronnie Garrett
Most people walk across a floor and never give it a second thought. But facility executives, building service contractors and other cleaning professionals lack that luxury.
BSCs and cleaning departments must consider the type of floor they’re maintaining and the proper cleaning methods to use for each unique floor surface. They must keep these floors as dry as possible in areas where a wet floor may present a slip and fall hazard.
But with a new OSHA ruling pertaining to walkways on the horizon, those in charge of cleaning will need to do far more. They will need to keep accurate records of their cleaning practices and periodically test these floors for their slip-resistance. And if they fail to comply, both the cleaners and the owners of the facility may be held liable.
“After the final rule is published, employers covered by the rule will be required to comply with the rule,” says an OSHA spokesperson. “Failure to do so may result in OSHA citations and subsequent fines for that employer.”
With that in mind, distributors can play a primary role in offering value-added services that aid both facility owners, BSCs and cleaning departments in OSHA walkways compliance.
OSHA regulations require facilities to provide employees with slip-resistant floor surfaces. But many experts view this terminology as somewhat subjective. Technological advances have made it possible to measure traction, prompting a ruling change with a more specific definition of slip resistance.
OSHA does not define a “high traction floor” in its subpart D, Walking-Working Surfaces rule, which states:
All places of employment, passageways, storerooms and service rooms shall be kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition; and
The floor of every workroom shall be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition. Where wet processes are used, drainage shall be maintained, and false floors, platforms, mats or other dry standing places should be provided where practicable.
However, in August 2013, OSHA will release a new rule regarding walking surfaces and personal fall protection. The ruling will change the terminology from slip-resistant to “high-traction” surfaces, a definition that is measurable through technology, which makes it possible for floor surfaces to be held to a specific standard. And if a slip and fall occurs, it can be determined whether the floor had high or low traction.
As stated in the Walking-Working Surfaces NPRM, published on May 24, 2010 in the Federal Register, OSHA proposed revisions to reduce the number of fall-related employee deaths and injuries by updating the rule to include new technology and industry measurements, reorganizing the rule into a clear and more logical manner, and providing greater flexibility to employers.
POSTED ON: 4/17/2013